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Amongst some of the further disasters that 
have befallen these ill-used records, we may allude 
to their being occasionally sold as waste-paper, 
their destruction by fire at the parson's residence, 
and their complete loss through being stolen. 
In a curious work by Francis Sadler (I738 , 
P- 54), entitled ' Exactions of Parish Fees dis- 
covered,' it is recorded how one Philips, late clerk 
of Lambeth, ran away with the register-book, 
whereby the parish became great sufferers, for no 
person born in the parish could have a transcript 
of the register to prove himself heir to an estate. 
In the Norwich Mercury of August x7, 776, 
this notice occurs: 
' IUroxham Church.  Whereas in night 
between 5th and 6th of this month the Parish 
Church of Wroxham was forcibly entered, and 
the chest in chancel broken, from whence the 
surplice was taken and torn in pieces, and two 
books, out of which were torn and carried away 
several leaves, containing the register of christen- 
ings and burials within the said parish from the 
year 1732 to the present time: The minister and 
churchwardens and inhabitants of the said parish 
offer a reward of twenty-five guineas to any person 
who will give information whereby the person or 
persons, or any one of them, concerned as above, 
may be convicted thereof, which reward of twenty- 
five guineas I promise hereby to pay on conviction. 
Some years ago the registers of few, containing 
the baptism and marriage of the late Duke of 

4 Social LiJ as Told by Parish Registers. 

Kent, the father of her present Majesty, and other 
royal births, deaths and marriages, were stolen. 
And the following extract from Archdeacon 
Musgrave's Charge to his clergy in May, I865, is 
a striking proof, if such were necessary, of the sad 
havoc which has in the course of past years 
befallen these parochial archives : ' In the exercise 
of my duty, I had to assist in recovering some 
registers carried off to a far-distant part of the 
country by a late incumbent, and long detained, 
to the great uneasiness and apprehension of the 
parish. I might also tell of a missing register-- 
the one m use immediately before the present 
Marriage Act--which, at the cost of much anxious 
inquiry, I traced to another riding, and eventually 
found among the books and papers of a deceased 
incumbent. Or I might advert to a mass of 
neglected, mutilated sheets, with no cover, inci- 
dentally discovered by myself in an outhouse of a 
parsonage in Craven; or, to add but one other 
instance, which, if it were not too irreparable a 
mischief, might provoke a smile. I have seen the 
entries of half a century cut away from a parchment 
register by a sacrilegious parish clerk, to subserve 
the purpose of his ordinary occupation as a tailor.' 
And Mr. T. P. Taswell-Langmead, in the Law 
Magazine and Review for May, 1878 , reminds 
his readers that 'fire, tempest, burglary,, theft, 
damp, mildew, careless or malicious injury, 
criminal erasure and interpolation, loss, and all 
the other various accidents which have been surely 
kut gradually bringing about the destruction of 
these registers, are still in active operation.' On 

6 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

favoured certain 'goodies' of the village by giving 
them the parchment leaves for wrapping their 
knitting-pins; and in the Report of the House 
of Commons Committee, in 835 , it is recorded 
how one sporting parson cut his parchment leaves 
into labels for the game which he sent to his friends. 
In another parish, the. register was wanting on the 
accession of a new vicar, who found that it had 
been thrown into the village pond during a parish 
dispute; and there is a tradition handed down 
that the wife of some parson, rector or curate of 
Dean, being angry with her husband, revenged 
herself, as she thought, upon him, but in reality 
on poor posterity, by throwing a register-book or 
books into the fire. 
But how registers should have, occasionally, 
come to be sold has been a puzzle to many 
antiquaries. Thus, the register of Shackerstone, 
which extends from the year 558 to the year 
x 63% is in the Bodleian Library. It was purchased 
from a gentleman at Beverley about March, I873 , 
but how it found its way into Yorkshire does not 
appear.* The parish register of Somerby, extend- 
ing from I6cI to 175, is preserved in the British 
Museum. It was purchased in April, 862, from 
Mr. C. Devon, but how it came into his possession 
is not told. According to the ournal of the 
British -/lrcheological -/lssociation (for March, 
882), the register of Papworth-Everard, Cam- 
bridgeshire, I565-r69_, was also acquired by the 

 See Burn, ' History of Parish Registers,' 86z, pp. 46, 47. 
See Notes atzdueries, 6th series, vol. v., p. 331. 

bztroduction. 7 

British Museum. Many similar instances might 
be quoted of registers having been purchased ; the 
register, of Stevington and part of that of Nuthurst 
being m the British Museum. The register of 
marriages, 662-72, of another Cambridgeshire 
parish, St. Mary's, Whittlesey, also fell by purchase 
into the hands of an antiquarian bookseller, who 
returned it to the parish. The register of North 
Elmham, from 538 to I63, was taken from the 
parish chest some years ago, and was afterwards 
purchased by Mr. Robert Fitch, who restored it to 
the parish on August 5, 186I. 
And, it may be remembered, there was sold at 
Messrs. Puttick's auction-room, on April 4, I86O, 
' The Original Register of Christenings, Mar- 
riages, and Burials of the Parish of Kingston-upon- 
Thames, from June, I54 J, to December, I556.' In 
the middle of the volume might be seen this entry : 
' Mem.--That I, John Bartlett, Clerke, entrynge 
to be Curate of thys parishe of Kynston-upon- 
Temyse, began myne entrans the 29 day of 
September, A.D. I547, to kepe ye boke accordynge 
to the ordeynance sett forth for chrystenynges, 
weddynges., and bureynges.' 
The registers did not wholly escape the sad 
effects of the ravages of war; thus, the earlier 
register of Lassington, Gloucestershire, contains 
this entry : ' The old Register Bookes belonging 
to the Parish of Lassington were embezzled and 
lost in the late times of confusion, criminell divisions, 
and unhappy warts ;' and the leaves of the parish 
register of Wimpole, Cambridgeshire, containing 
the entries from I6O 4 to the end of 616 were 

8 Social Life as 7bid by Parish Registers. 

torn out during the civil wars by the Parliamentary 
soldiers; and the following memoranduna is found 
in the register of Tarporley, Cheshire, in explana- 
tion of a break in the entries from I643 to x648 : 
'This Intermission hapned by reason of the 
Great Wars obliterating memorials, vasting for- 
tunes, and slaughtering persons of all sorts.' 
Another register remarks that nothing could be 
entered during the Civil \Vars, 'as neither 
minister nor people could quietly stay at home for 
one party or the other ;' and the register of 
Rotherby thus notices the disturbed state of the 
country an the time of Charles I. : ' x643, Bellum! 
644, Bellum ! Interruption, Persecution! . . . 
Sequestration by John Mussen Yeoman and John 
Yates Taylor! 649, 65c), I65, 652, I653, 
x654, Sequestration! Thomas Silverwood in- 
Similar entries occur in the register of St. Mary's, 
Beverley. Under June 3% 643, it is stated: 
' Our great scrimage in Beverley, and God gave 
us the victory at that tyme, ever blessed be 
God ;' and the dangers of war on every side 
caused the parson to exclaim, July 3c), I643 : 
' All our lives now at ye stake, 
Lord deliver us, for Christ His sake.' 
Paul Church, Cornwall, was burnt by the Spaniards 
in the year x 595, and the registers prior to that event 
were destroyed. Indeed, the registers generally 
seem to have had a rough time ; and taking also into 
account the many other vicissitudes to which they 
were exposed, it is a matter of congratulation that 

Introductioz. 9 

they have survived as well as they have. Another 
reason for the registers not being kept is given in 
a memorandum in the loughborough register" 
' Heare is to be noted and remembered that from 
the IO day of April in Anno 554 there was no 
Register keepte, by reason of the alteration of 
Religion and often chaunginge of Priests in those 
times and yeares, until the first yeare of the raigne 
of our Soveraigne Ladle the Queen's Majesty 
Elizabeth by the Grace of God, Queen of England, 
Fraunce and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, and 
until the yeare of God, 1558.' 
Although, it is true, many registers have been 
destroyed owing to causes over which their custodians 
had no control, yet it is only too apparent that 
culpable negligence and indifference have had a 
large share in bringing about the present lament- 
able result. A curious instance of this kind is 
given by Coventry,' On Evidence' (1832 , p. 49)" 
' In a case just laid before the writer, it is stated 
that the parson's greyhound had made her nest in 
the chest containing the parish registers, and that, 
as the reverend gentleman had a greater affection 
for the progeny of his companion than the off- 
spring of his parishioners, the requisite registers 
of baptism, etc., had become obliterated and 
partially destroyed.' The early registers of a 
parish in Kent have been lost, 'having been kept 
at a public-house, to be shown, as they contained 
some curious entries as to tythes ;' whereas in 
another we are informed that the clerk employed 
the leaves of the parish records, amongst other 
purposes, for ' singeing a goose.' 

Social L,.fe as 7bld by Parish Registers. 

persons were stated to have been married on a 
particular day, but in the parish register there seemed 
to have been an erasure in the exact place corre- 
sponding with the entry of the marriage in the copy.' 
The Huntingdon peerage case was sorely per- 
plexing because many leaves from the books of 
Christchurch, Hants, had been used by a curate's 
wife to line kettle-holders. There is the case of Miss 
Chudleigh, who, for an iniquitous purpose, wished 
to conceal her marriage with Lieutenant Hervey. 
Accompanied by a female friend, she made a visit 
to Laniston, where the marriage had taken place, 
and desired to see the register; whilst her friend 
engaged the attention of the parish clerk, she cut 
out the page containing the marriage entry, and 
with that important document returned to London. 
By a strange irony of fate, the Lieutenant became 
Earl of Bristol. To be plain Mrs. Hervey was 
one thing, to be Countess of Bristol another. 
The lady, however, was equal to the emergency, 
she took another journey to Laniston, and by the 
assistance of an attorney, and a bribe to the parish 
clerk, she got the abstracted leaf reinserted in its 
proper place in the register. In the Leigh peerage 
case, in like manner, a baptism which had been 
expunged from the parish books of \Vigan was 
found in the Bishop's transcript, and by its 
presence decided the suit. 
In the registers of St. Peter's, Cornhill, under 
June 9_5, 673, this entry occurs: 'Osmund 
Mordaunt, son of John Lord Mordaunt of Ful- 
ham, Midd*., and Mary Bulger of Lurgan, N r. 
Gorey in Ireland, were married this day.' In 

Introduction.  3 

respect of this entry there is preserved in the 
register a letter from Sir John Page Wood, Bart., 
Rector of St. Peter's, dated November 3 o, 829, 
in which he says : ' On minutely investigating the 
register of marriage of one Osmond Mordaunt 
with Mary Bulger, dated 673 , I am clearly of 
opinion that the said entry of marriage is a gross 
and clumsy forgery. My opinion is formed on the 
discrepancies which exist between the said entry 
and those of the same period before and after it. 
Its handwriting is evidently more modern than 
those near it; it is not entered like the others, 
with a specification as to the ceremony's having 
been performed by the authority of banns or 
license ; the parchment it is written on is thinner 
in substance than the rest of the book, as if an 
erasure had been made. The entry is made at the 
bottom of the page, and there is no signature 
thereon, either of incumbent or churchvarden, 
which occurs in every page of that period.' A 
pedigree is also given, drawn up by some member 
of the Heralds' College, by which it appears that 
Osmond Mordaunt was not more than eighteen 
years old in 677, and hence would only have 
been fourteen at the time of this reputed marriage. 
It may be added that in the baptisms under 
June 29, 674, is this entry.: 'Peter, the Son of 
Osmund and Mary.' But it is in a different hand- 
writing to the other entries, is on the last line at 
the bottom of the page, and has evidently been 
inserted after the page had been signed 'Will 
Beveridge,' as one of the figures of the date crosses 
that signature, and in every other page a small 

14 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

space is left between the last entry and his 
In the abstract of the returns, printed by 
authority of Parliament in the year I833 , relative 
to the number of volumes, dates, and state of 
preservation of the registers, down to the year 
18  2, then in possession of the parish priest, some 
very interesting facts were given on this point, and 
the incumbent of Chickerell thus wrote : ' I have 
minutely examined the registers of this parish, and 
hope there are no others in the kingdom in which 
so little confidence should be placed. There are 
only two old books, one of parchment, the other of 
paper, the former sadly mutilated and interpolated, 
the latter so defective that during nay incumbency 
of one year many certificates have been requested 
to no purpose, for want of entries. The omissions, 
I suspect, may be attributed to carelessness; the 
abuses, to frauds which have been committed on 
the lord of the manor in favour of the copy- 
holders; but to particularize all of them would 
be a very unprofitable work.' Another parson, 
writing at the same period, tells how the church 
of Pinner, Middlesex, was broken open, and part 
of the registers destroyed; and of ]3erwick, 
Sussex, it is recorded that 'a register of baptisms 
[was] taken to Peasmarsh by the former minister, 
which has never been recovered,' and a similar cause 
for the absence of the register of Althorpe, 
Lincolnshire, is given: ' There are two register 
books of earlier date, which were taken away by 
the Archdeacon in the year 1824.' 
It is impossible to say, too, how many a register 

Introduction.  5 

may have fallen a prey to damp and other ravages 
of time, as well as to religious and political 
troubles. The early registers of Huish-Champ- 
flower, for instance, are described 'as being 
mutilated and illegible, occasioned by a storm 
unroofing the church and wetting the contents of 
the parish chest'; and the return for Belstone 
Church, Devonshire, runs thus : ' There are several 
registers, the earliest dated t552, but so irregular 
and damaged that no correct account can be given ; 
about twenty years ago some of the register-books 
were burnt.' But occasionally a careful Vicar, as 
we learn from this injunction in the parish of 
Rodmarton, took care to keep the register from 
getting damp: ' If ye will have this book last, 
bee sure to aire it art the fire or in the sunne three 
or foure times a year, els it will grow dankish and 
rott ; therefore look to it. It will not be amisse, 
when you find it dankish, to wipe over the leaves 
with a dry woollen cloath. This place is very 
much subject to dankishness; therefore, I say, 
look to it.' 
Speaking of fire, it seems that many registers 
owe their destruction to this cause, that of West 
Lulworth, Dorset, having been burnt in the year 
t78o. At St. Bees, a fire broke out one Sunday 
morning in 1868, when some of the registers were 
destroyed, and the returns already quoted tell how 
' the earlier registers of Little Thornham, Suffolk, 
were burnt in a fire which consumed the parsonage- 
house of a neighbouring parish.' One can only 
regret that an old usage in force at Spitalfields is 
not equally binding in other parishes. The follow- 

I 6 8ocia/ L'fie as Told  Paris/ Registers. 

ing statement was made in the year I867, when 
an appeal was made by the churchwardens, owing 
to the danger to which the registers of that parish 
were for a long series of years subjected :. 'By one 
of the canons governing .ecclesiastical affairs, the 
churchwardens are bound to provide an iron chest 
in which to preserve the registers of baptisms, 
marriages, and burials, and until last summer it 
was on all hands believed that Spitalfields Church 
was supplied with a chest of the proper character. 
During the recent, restoration, it was discovered 
that the supposed iron register-chest was a large 
stone box with iron doors; and, if it had ever 
been subjected to the action of fire, there is no 
doubt that the extremely valuable and interesting 
registers of this parish from its creation in 1728 
would have inevitably been destroyed.' The 
register-chest referred to was probably put up 
during the erection of the church, and was entirely 
covered with oak framing corresponding with the 
oak partitioning in the building. 
It is a matter of satisfaction, however, to know 
that at last the value of these volumes of social 
and domestic history has been realized, and that 
in most parishes they are now carefully preserved 
as heirlooms of the past. The Harleian Society, 
also, taking into account the genealogical interest 
attaching to them, has undertaken their publica- 
tion, and already the registers of certain City 
parishes have been given to the world, and thus 
permanently preserved for all generations to come. 
But, unfortunately, some of the parish registers 
which have been printed by private individuals 

Introduction.  7 

have not been published in their entirety, but only 
such extracts as were, in the opinion of the editor. 
worthy of note. As records of genealogical and 
historical value, all such imperfect publications 
are of comparatively little worth, and are interest- 
ing only so far as they illustrate the original 
It may be well here to note that the first orders 
for the provision of parochial registers date from 
the year I538, and were rendered necessary in 
consequence of the dissolution of the religious 
houses and the cessation of their registers. The 
first was issued by the Vicar-General Cromwell, 
in the thirtieth year of Henry VIII., and this order 
was continued by fresh injunctions in the succeed- 
ing reigns of Edward VI., Elizabeth, and James I. 
During the confusion which existed in the reign 
of Charles I., parish registers were greatly neg- 
lected, and were for the first time regulated by 
Act of Parliament. And on Jan. 3, I644-45 an 
ordinance was made that'a fair register book ot 
velim' should be provided in every parish, and that 
the names of all children baptized, and the time of 
their birth, and also the names of all persons 
married and buried, should be set down therein 
by the minister. During the Commonwealth, the 
system of leaving parochial registration to the 
clergy seems to have failed. Parliament again 
interfered, and registrars were appointed. At the 
Restoration, the charge of keeping the registers 
again devolved on the clergy, and has continued a 
part of their duty ever since. 
Nothing appears to have been done with regard 

I8 Social LiJb as Told by Parish Registers. 

to the parish registers in the reign of James II. ; 
but in that of William lII., in consequence of a 
duty being imposed on the various entries, the 
negligent and careless clergy were, for the first 
time, exposed to the terror of the common 
informer. Many of the registers, therefore, from 
this time seem to have been better kept, but as a 
great number of the clergy were not fully aware 
of the penalties to which they were subject through 
non-compliance with the law, in the fourth year of 
Queen Anne's reign an Act of Indemnity was 
found necessary. 
In the year 753 was passed the famous 
Marriage Act, called Lord Hardwicke's Act, still 
in force. By this Act, any person convicted ot 
tampering with or destroying any register of 
marriage was to be deemed guilty of felony 
without benefit of clergy. In the year x783 the 
Stamp Act was passed, which levied a tax upon 
every entry in the parish register, but it met with 
such opposition that it was repealed in the year 
79-1-- By this Act the rich and poor were taxed 
alike, and the parson was placed in the invidious 
and unpopular light of a tax-gatherer. As the 
poor were often either unable or unwilling to 
pay the tax imposed u.pon them, the clergyman 
not unfrequently paid it out of his own pocket 
rather than run the risk of incurring the ill-will 
of his parishioners. No change of any material 
importance took place until the xear x 8 t 2, when 
an Act, commonly known as ose's Act, was 
passed for ' the better regulating and preserving 
parish and other registers' ; and lastly, in the year 

Itrodzction.  9 

1836 , a very stringent and salutary law was made, 
when it was required that henceforth all future 
registers should be kept in books specially provided 
for that purpose, and 'according to one uniform 
scheme set out in the schedules annexed to the 
Since the passing of the Registration Act, in 
the year 1836 , the value of the parish register as 
a public record has greatly diminished. The 
registration of births and deaths has superseded, 
as far as legal purposes are concerned, that of 
baptisms and burials; an:l every quarter a copy 
of the marriages is forwarded by the parson to the 
Registrar-General; one, too, of the well-known 
pair of green books, when filled, being likewise 
sent to the Registrar-General. 
Such, briefly told, is the history of the parish 
register, but it is more especially with its contents 
that we are concerned, as illustrating in a variety 
of ways the manners and customs of former times. 
The present printed forms for the several entries 
of baptisms, etc., it must be remembered, preclude 
the mention of any other particulars, which abound 
in the old registers, and must ever be highly 
valuable from their miscellaneous character. It 
was a frequent custom to insert occurrences of a 
memorable or historical nature ; and, as might be 
expected, highly curious as well as quaint, are 
many of these entries. \Vhen, as sometimes 
happened, the parson was of a witty turn of mind, 
the entries almost verge on the ludicrous and 
grotesque; and again, from the occasional entries 
made in a few pithy words of Latin, the refined 


instance, while the books themselves are splendidly 
preserved. The register of Marylebone is a most 
voluminous affair, and, like that of Limehouse, is 
a model, of. good order. Stepney....which has a 
register going back farther than limehouse, is 
another commendable example, that of St. Martin's- 
in-the-Fields being equally good. Most of our 
City churches, too, have full and fair registers, 
the evil, we are told, of defective ancl badly kept 
registers being most noteworthy in our rural 
parishes. At the same time, despite innumerable 
mischances which have, at one time or another, 
befallen the parish registers, they represent a con- 
siderable anaount of documentary evidence, not to 
be replaced, relating to the obscure past. Indeed, 
whilst invaluable as genealogical records in con- 
nection with the rights of property and the 
assumption of titles, they further afford us an 
insight into the social life of our forefathers not 
otherwise obtainable. 
And, taking into account the value of the 
parish register, it is highly desirable, as it has been 
so often urged, that a law should be passed eta- 
forcing its future safe government in some public 
office, as exists in Scotland. When a system of 
registration was introduced into Scotlanl by the 
7th and x Sth Vict., c. 8% ' An Act to provide 
for the better Registration of Births, Deaths, and 
Marriages in Scotland,' passed August 7, x854, 
old parochial registers were ordered to be trans- 
mitted to the Registrar-General for preservation 
in the General Registry Office at Edinburgh. 
Very many of the present registers, too, are 

Introduction. 2 3 

him and likewise delivered into the hands of the 
said Thomas Walker the old Register Book 
(belonging to the said Parish) bearing date from 
the 27th ofAprill 538 to the 3rd of Aprill I597. 
In testimony whereof I have hereunder written 
my hand the 22nd day of September I653. 
It appears that Thomas \Valker died on Decem- 
ber 7, 655, which explains the next memo- 
randum : 
' Whereas ye above said Thomas \Valker being 
deceased and ye parish of Leyland being void of a 
Register y Inhabitants of y said parish or y 
major part of ym have att a Gen'all Meeting by a 
Certificate under yer hands ellected and chosen 
Mr. "William Rothvell yeir minister to bee 
Register of y parish aforesaid with a provisoe yat 
hee shall relinquish itt when y parish or y greater 
part yereof shall think fitt to conferr itt upon y 
Schoole[master]. These are therefore to certifie 
all whom it may concerne that ye said Mr. Roth- 
well comeing before mee one of y Justices of 
Peace for y said Countie of Lanc r and tendered 
ye said Certificate I have allowed of him to be 
Register for ye said parish and have tendered and 
given him ye oth of A Register according to an 
Act of Parliam  of y 24-th August I653 in y 
case provided, and hath also deliv a to the safe 
keepeing of y said Mr. Rothwell ye old Register 
above mentioned. 
' Given under my hand att Buckshaw the 25th 
Januarie, 1656.' 

2 4 Soczal LiJF as Tol, t by Parish Registers. 

So far the parson seems to have kept in favour 
with his parishioners, but according to the story 
given in Walker's 'Sufferings of the Clergy,' he 
had to endure much persecution and hardship 
between this date and that of the Restoration. 
Hence the further memorandum : 

' Whereas Mr. Rothwell the late Register being 
displaced and y said parishioners of Leyland 
meeteing att the P'rish Church of Leyland upon 
the first day of May 656 the major part then 
prsent did ellecte and choose Robert Abbott of 
Leyland above-said yeoman to bee for the tyme 
prsent Register for the said p'rish and to execute 
that office till the parish with ye approbac6n 
of the next Justice of peace should thinke fitt 
to conferr ye said office upon some other P'son. 
Fhese are therefore to certifie all whom it may 
concerne that y said Robert Abbott comeing that 
day before mee one of the justices of y peace for 
y said Countie I have approved and allowed of 
him and hath administered ye oath of a Register 
to him accordinge to y Acte of Parliam t in that 
case provided and also hath deliu'ed into his safe 
keeping the old Register Book menconed in the 
first Certificate on ye other side. Given under my 
hand att Buckshaw y 2rid May i656. 

But it will be seen in an ensuing chapter that 
Mr. Rothwell's case was far from being an isolated 
one, further instances having been given in other 



HE parish life of one or two centuries ago 
was very different from what it is at the 
present day. Time has wrought many changes: 
old customs have passed away, railways have 
linked one village with another, and country life 
has gradually assimilated itself in tone and char- 
acter with the practices and habits of neighbouring 
towns. As formerly, the rural parish is no longer 
an isolated little community; and hence it has 
thrown ofF, from year to year, those characteristics 
of habit and custom which once gave it an indi- 
viduality of its own. But, happily, many of these 
traits of parish life have been preserved in local 
documents--such as the parochial register--which 
otherwise would have perished and been lost to 
An interesting entry relating to the Poor Laws 
of Edward VI. and 5 Elizabeth occurs in the 
transcript of the register of St. Mary Magdalene, 
Canterbury, for the year 565, where, added to 

26 Social Life as 7bht by Parish Registers. 

the burial on March 6 of' Israel Raynolds s. of 
James Raynolds',' this note is given" ' Sol. iiijd.' ; 
and in the transcript of St. George's, Canterbury, 
under 566, we find that the names of the 
collectors for the poor were Christopher Lewys 
and Thomas Kyng, and that they collected four- 
pence. 'It is hardly necessary,' writes Mr. 
Meadows Cowper, * 'to say that so long as the 
monasteries stood there was no need and no 
thought of a Poor Law ; but when they were 
suppressed, the ugly fact stared men in the face 
that there were countless poor, and none to 
provide for them.' An attempt was made to meet 
the difficulty, and in the reign of Elizabeth an 
Act was passed 'touching relieving poor and im- 
potent persons.' The Act runs thus: ' The poor 
and impotent persons of every parish shall be 
relieved of that which every person will of their 
charity give weekly" and the same relief shall be 
gathered m every parish by collectors assigned, 
and weekly distributed to the poor; for none of 
them shall openly go or sit begging. And if any 
parishioner shall obstinately refuse to pay reason- 
ably toward the relief of the said poor, or shall 
discourage others ; then the Justices of the Peace 
at the .Quarter Sessions may tax him to a reasonable 
weekly sum; which, if he refuses to pay, they 
may commit him to prison.' 
And, as Mr. Cowper adds, Christopher Lewys 
and Thomas Kyng the ' collectors assigned,' 
and if the amount ' iiijd, represents the result of a 
year's collection, we need not be surprised that 
"* 'Registers of St. George's, Canterbury,' Introduction, v, vi. 

Ptzrish Life. 2 7 

other Poor Laws were soon required to prevent 
the people from dying of starvation.' 
But the condition of many a country parish in 
the seventeenth century was lamentable owing to 
those days of contest and confusion. As one of 
the many instances of the wretched state of parish 
life at this period, a writer in the ' Sussex Archae- 
ological Collections' (iv. :259 ) mentions the 
condition of Wivelsfield. It appears' the tithes, 
both great and small, belonged to a Mr. More, of 
Morehouse, whose predecessors had received them 
by gra,lt from the Crown, on the dissolution of 
the Monastery of Lewes, previous to which the 
church had been supplied by a lay-reader, who 
sometimes on a holiday came over to read a 
homily. During the time of the Rebellion and 
the Protectorate, the parish, which before had been 
supplied by students provided by the family of 
Mr. More, had been filled successively by a 
Presbyterian jack-maker, a drummer, and a malt- 
man.' A memorandum in Mayfield register, 
made by the parson, dated I646, and signed by 
him, tells much the same tale: 
' I being called upon to the Assembly of Divines, 
did offer to give up all the tithes due from the 
parishioners for the maintenance of a minister, but 
through the backwardness of many in not paying 
their dues, and it may be by the negligence of some 
in not being active to procure a fit man for the 
place, and to give him encouragement, there was 
no constant minister for some time, and afterwards 
divers changes, so that the register was neglected 
for divers years.' 

2 8 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

Entries of this kind are of frequent occurrence, 
and show under what disadvantages parish life 
was passed. A memorandum m the register of 
Kibworth, Leicestershire, dated I64I, runs thus : 
'Know all men that the reason why little or 
nothing is registered from this year I64 until 
the year 649 , was the Civil Wars between 
Charles and his Parliament, which put all into a 
confusion till then; and neither minister nor 
people could quietly stay at home for one party 
or the other.' Indeed, taking into consideration 
the many difficulties at this period of our history 
that attended the keeping of the parish registers, 
it is surprising that they did not fare far worse in 
such a time of turmoil. 
But turning from the political surroundings of 
parish life, it would seem that occasionally disputes, 
as at the present day, were the cause of much 
vexatious litigation; and whilst the parson was 
struggling with more or less success against the 
difficulties of his calling, much bitterness and ill- 
feeling were often caused by such unhappy dis- 
senslons. Thus, it appears that the old register of 
the parish of St. Olave, Chester, was lost in a suit 
between Hugh Harvey and the parishioners in 
the year I666; and a memorandum carefully 
inserted in the parish register of Hillingdon, under 
the date of December 3o, I67o , gives an interest- 
ing account of a lawsuit which arose as to 
what parish a certain house belonged. It runs 
thus : 
'Elizabeth, the daughter of John Franklin and 
Grace his wife, at ye house near Ikenham belong- 

Parish Li.. 9 

ing to this parish, by leave first derived, was 
christened there, which house ira the time of nay 
immediate Predecessor, Mr. Bourne, occasioned a 
very great suit between the two Towns, when at 
last after a great deal of money spent, it was 
adjudged to belong to Hillingdon, and so hath 
been adjudged ever since, without dispute; and 
to prevent any for time to come, this memoriall is 
now registered. 
Four years later we find another entry--this 
time relating to a burial difficulty--between the 
same two parishes : 'Janry Sth, I674. The wife 
of--Beddifont marr at Ikenham and there, by 
leave first obtained, buried; and not by any }ust 
right to burie there, as formerly pretended, till it 
was determined by law after a costly and tedious 
suit betwixt the two Townes. Salvo itaque in 
omnibus jure exit sus  Hillingdoniensis.' Ira 
many cases it would seem that boundary parish 
lines were ill-defined, which gave rise to much 
dispute; and, as in the case just quoted, there 
was oftentimes in a parish an unwritten law, the 
real existence of which, when questioned by some 
captious or aggrieved parishioner, involved an 
expensive lawsuit. 
In the Crosby-on-Eden registers there is a 
quaint entry which tells its own tale, and from 
which it would seem that the parishioners of 
Crosby desired to place on record their triumph 
over their neighbours of Brampton: 
' Whereas the Churchwardens and Overseers of 
ye Poor for ye of Crosby ypon Eden made 
 Probably the tithe pig. 

Parfsdt Life. 3  

Order soo made by the said Justices to be confirmed 
and it is hereby confirmed. Dated the day and 
year aforesaid.' 
Any infringement of parish rights seems to 
have been most obstinately resented, and the 
following interesting minute of a meetinglspeci- 
ally convened to consider what steps should be 
taken to uphold certain privileges belonging to 
the parish--is written upon a flyleaf at the com- 
mencement of one of the registers of SS. Peter and 
Paul, Mitcham : 
' It is this day agreed upon by the Inhabitants 
above named in the behalfe of the rest of the 
Inhabitants that the common fields shall be layd 
open so soon as all the come of the said fields 
shall be carried out. And then and not before 
it shall be lawfull for the said Inhabitants that 
have been accustomed and to have benefitt of the 
common of the said field to put in their cattle 
until St. Luke Day following, and not after any 
sheepe or other cattle to be suffered there, but if 
any be taken they are to be put in the pound or 
to be trespassers upon paine for every horse six- 
pence, every cowe four pence, and every hogg 
threepence, and every sheepe one penny, and for 
every horse cowe hogg or sheepe that shall be 
taken in the same field after our Lady Day to 
double the said penalty, the benefitt of the said 
Pennelty to goe to the field-keeper. 
' And likewise it is agreed upon by the said 
Inhabitants that all those who have inclosed any 
part of the common ffields shall take away their 
gates that their severall inclosures may be co/fion 

Parish Life. 3 3 

agreement be entered into the Church booke and 
the towne booke. And in them bothe by all the 
present feoffees and other the cheife Inhabitants 
subscribed under every one of their hands. Dated 
this o 'h June, 65.' 
Many memoranda of this kind occur in the 
parish registers, and they are interesting as show- 
mg that our forefathers were equally jealous of 
what they considered their public rights, and were 
at all times ready to resist any arbitrary or unjust 
curtailment of them--an uncompromising attitude 
which even the parson himself was prepared to 
maintain, as may be gathered from an entry made 
in the register of Little Abington, where 'the 
rights of the Vicaridge' are very minutely 
corded, a Mr. Colbatch, who compiled the 
article, making this conclusion: 'Cursed is he 
that removeth his neighbour's landmark.' 
But it was not the right of property only which 
occasionally gave rise to a parish broil, for the 
administration of the poor-law seems at times to 
have exercised the mind of the rural parishioner. 
In the year x674, it appears from an entry that 
there was paid at Eastbourne to a certain 'J. Russell, 
for keeping Mary Peeper, two weeks and three 
days, six shillings; to Goody Russell, for laying 
her out, one shilling; disbursed for bread and 
beer at her funeral, two shillings and twopence.' 
These items when published created a widespread 
feeling of dissatisfaction, and soon afterwards the 
parishioners held a meeting in the vestry, and 
'declared that great abuses in the administration 
of the poor-law had taken place,' and as a mark 

34 Social LiJb as Told by Parish Registers. 

of their displeasure a resolution was passed that 
all recipients of relief should wear a badge upon 
the right side of their upper garment, and if the 
overseer relieved any other than these, no allow- 
ance was to be made to him for their account.  
That this was not an isolated case is evident from 
a memorandum in Wadhurst register, dated x63o , 
relating to the misappropriation of certain funds 
specially intended for the poor: 
' Whereas Mr. Thomas Whitefield, of Worth, in 
the County of Surrey, Esquire, being well affected 
to the parish of Wadhurst, gave, besides the three 
almshouses and twelve cordes ofwoode, ten poundes 
by the yeare, the said ten pounds was, in 633, 
employed to the payment of the general sesse of the 
poor, whereby the said money given to be disposed 
to the maintenance of the poor was diverted from 
the right ends, and served to abate the charge of 
the rich assessed in the said sesse. Whereupon 
John Hatley, Vicar of Wadhurst, then one of the 
feoffees, opposed this Act as ungodly as unjust; 
and the writings being showed whereby the ten 
pounds annuity was conveyghed, it was found 
that the said ten pounds was by them to be 
disposed to the extended use of the poor, and not 
to serve to the abatement of the charge of the 
rich. This the above-named John Hatley thought 
fit to set down here, forasmuch as he suffered 
many foule words for opposing this wrong ; and 
lest any ill-disposed person should attempt to do 
it hereafter, or any man not knowing the purport 
of the conveighance should ignorantly fall into 
the ruine of sacrilege.' 
 ' Sussex Arch,'eological Collections,' vol. iv., F. 267. 

4 o Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

which relates to a custom that had existed from 
time immemorial with respect to payments for 
' the use and reparacon of the Church of Prest- 
burie,' and which, as far as can be gathered, 
appears to have been peculiar to the parish--a ley 
or assessment, resembling in some respects the 
ordinary church rate, but locally known as serage 
or cerage silver, the survival, it has been sug- 
gested, of the 'wax-money,' allowed to the Vicar 
by the Abbey of St. Werburgh, Chester, in 
accordance with an agreement made at about the 
end of the thirteenth, or beginning of the four- 
teenth century. After reciting ' the duties and 
'laudable customs, as of long tyme have been due 
and accustomed to be paid,' the order sets forth 
the apportionment for each township liable, with 
the names of those persons who 'subscrybed did 
agree and consent' thereto, as well for themselves 
as the rest of the parish.* 
The next entry is a copy of a very interesting 
kind, of' an old Order taken and of long time used 
by the consent of the whole parish of Prestburie, 
for the dividing and the better repayringe or 
mayntenhinge of the Churchyard.' It seems that 
the residents of each township had been granted 
a certain portion of the ground in the churchyard, 
which they undertook to keep fenced, and n 
order, reserved for their exclusive use--a practice 
.by no means unusual. Contracts, again, for keep- 
xng the church in repair are not unfrequently 
recorded in the registers, and an old one, dated 15 7 8, 
 ' The Register of Prestbury,' edited by James Croston, 
Record Society, t88t : Introduction, p. xiv. 

Parzsh Life. 41 

is given in the Wragby register, which is a good illus- 
tration of agreements of this kind: 
' It was agreed, upon the xvi h of[No]vemb anno 
1 5 7 8 betwixt the Churchwardens and the rest of the 
parish of Wragbie, and Thomas blilner of Wragbie 
aforesaid, that he, the said Thomas Milner shall 
from the xvi th day of November of his own costes 
and charges, maintaine, uphould, and keepe, all the 
bells within the Churche of Wragbie with hempe, 
lether, and greas, with all their furniture belong- 
inge to the said bells, as often as need shall 
require ; brass and iron, and wood, for yockes and 
wheles excepted, whitche is to be found of the 
charges of the Parish. And the same belle (?) to 
be so repaired by the said Thomas Milner, as is 
aforesaid, during the term and space xx ti yeare, 
yff he the said Thomas Milner do live so long, 
and continew within the parish of Wragbie, the 
Churchwardens for the time being painge unto the 
said Thomas Milner vjs. vijd. everye yeare, that 
is to say iijs. iijd. at Mychelmes, and iijs. iijd. at 
the Nunchation of the blessed Virgin Mary by 
even portions. 
Indeed, it seems to have been a popular and 
long-standing notion that the fact of any kind 
of parish agreement being copied into the register 
made it all the more binding on the parties 
concerned, but the chief reason for this practice 
was, that, if by any accident in after-years a 
contract should be either mislaid or lost, a copy 
of it could be seen in the register of the parish. 
By its being entered, too, in the register, any 
business transaction had thereby a public lm- 

42 Social Life as ToM by Parish Registers. 

portance imparted to it, which made it all the 
more binding. Thus, we find the Vicar of 
Aldingbourne, Sussex, making a note in his register 
of the fees for which he was not liable: 'The 
Vicarage of Aldingborne is not to pay any pro- 
curations to the Archdeacon ; neither was the 
glebe lands or the tythes belonging to the 
Vicarage ever taxed, within the memory of 
man, to any payments saving in the year 635, six 
shillings and eightpence to the shipping.' 
Agreements of this kind were by no means 
uncommon, but occasionally they gave rise to future 
litigation. At the conclusion of the old register- 
book of Kirk-Leatham is an instance of the 
valuable efforts and mediation of the Vicar, the 
compact agreed upon long remaining in force: 

' Primo die May, Anno Dffni I622. 
' Memorandum.--At the direction of Robert 
Weemse, then Vicar of Kirkleatham, for the good 
of the whole parish, I, Nicholas Kildale, have 
inserted this order hereafter following, to remain 
ad perpetuam rei memoriam. For after a long suit 
and controversy, which was between Kirkleatham 
and Wilton, in the Spirituall Court at York, the 
matter by the men of Wilton, Lackenby, and 
Laisenby, was drawne into the Court of Wards in 
ye minority of Phrediric Cornewallis. And was 
brought againe from the said Court of Wards 
by ye meanes of ye said Robert Weemse ; and at 
last, by ye mutuall consent and assent of the 
whole parish, as well of Kirkleatham as Wilton, was 
finally ordered as hereinafter is specifyed, which 

Parish Lff. 45 

Westmoreland, are given the fourteen names of 
'the sworne men of Orto' anno d'ni 596, ' 
after which this memorandum is added, another 
interesting relic of parish life in olden times : 
'[n primis that thes be diligent and careful to see 
and provide that the people be . and behave 
the'selves honestlie . . . feare of God according 
to the Holie Word of God and the Good and 
wholesome laws of this land. Secondlie to see 
that the Churchwardens be careful and diligent 
in executinge their office ioyne with thes in sup- 
pressinge of sinne and such as behave the'selves 
inordinatlie to reprove and rebuke those wh be 
found offenders, and if they will not amend to 
pesent the' to be punished. Thirdlie--to se that 
the Church and Churchy d be decentlie repaired 
and mainteyned. Also we as agreed yt everie 
p'sonnis beinge found faultie by the Churchwardens 
and p'sented to the sworn me' shall paie xijd. to 
the poor ma's box. And that whosoever doth not 
come p'sent the'selves lawfull warning being given 
either of the xij or Churchwardens to the place 
appointed shall loose xi(j)to the poore ma's box 
without a sufficient cause to the contrarie whereof 
thes are to certifie the rest assembled at... 
appointed of their meetinge. Lastly that the 
Churchwardes . . and take the sam forfat . . . 
p'sent the offenders.' 
The clause following the third admonition is 
a little obscure, but the meaning, it has been 
suggested, is this: ' If any person be deemed by 
the churchwardens to be guilty of disorderly or 
immoral conduct he shall be presented to the court 

4 6 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

of the twelve sworn men--the list given comprises 
fourteen names; perhaps the two churchwardens 
were included- who shall, if the accused is 
unable to clear himself, thereupon inflict a fine of 
twelve pence payable to the poor-box, and that if 
he fails to attend and answer to the complaint, 
being duly summoned either by the twelve or the 
churchxvardens, or fails to send sufficient excuse 
for absence, the same fine shall be imposed. ' 
It appears to have been customary in some 
parishes to make once a year a list of the in- 
habitants of the parish. Such a practice was 
observed in the parish of St. Mary Aldermary, 
with additional particulars as to their occupation, 
religious faith, and the numbers of their respective 
families. Two such lists, for the years I733 and 
1734, were transcribed in the parish register, and 
these are interesting as illustrating the register 
itself, and as furnishing details which do not 
appear elsewhere.j- 
" See Cumberland and Westmoreland Antiquarian and 
Archaeological Society, I89I , vol. xi., pp. zSz , z53- 
"1" These lists have been reproduced by Dr. j. L. Chester in 
his reprint of ' The Parish Registers of St. Mary Aldermary,' 
ISSO, pp. z35 and z38. 



HE relations of the parson with his parish- 
ioners, unhappily, have not always been of 
the most friendly kind--a circumstance, it would 
seem, in some cases owing to his having been 
appointed in direct.opposition to the wishes of the 
people. The register of Staplehurst gives an 
account of a certain Rector who was appointed in 
this manner : 
' Henricus Kent, Cantab et Socius Collegii .Reglis 
rector ecclesia3 parochialis de Staplehurst, mstl- 
tutus sexto die novembris, i645 , et ejusdem anni 
decimo septimo die Nov riS inductus. Hujusdem 
Ecclesia3 possessionem non sine multorum oppo- 
sitionibus accepit, sed non- ullorum suffragiis 
electus, et suo jure legali sustentatus, per ordinens 
parliamenti specialem liberam tandem pra3dicandi 
potestatem habuit. O tempora! O mores !' 
But Henry Kent lived long enough to gain not 
only the affections of his parishioners, but even 
the goodwill of his opponents. In the register of 

4 8 Social L[/'e as ToM by Parish Registers. 

East Lavant, some particulars are given respecting 
another parson who, too, was regarded as an 
intruder. The entry runs thus : ' 29 'h Oct., 1653. 
Richard Batsworth was approved of, and sworn to 
be a parish minister for the sayd parish, according 
to an Act of Parliament in the case made and 
provided.' It is further added that 'he was a 
man of low stature, very violent for the rebels, 
and a plunderer of the royalists, particularly of 
the Morley family. He had some learning, a 
great deal of chicanery, though seldom more than 
one coat, which for some time he wore the wrong 
side out,--its right side was seen only on Sundays 
--till it was almost worn out, and then he had a 
new one, vhich he used in the same manner.' 
On November 15, 649 , it appears that Mr. 
Nalton was chosen 'by very full and general 
consent to be minister of St. Martin's, .Ludgate 
Hill, but he did not accept the appointment, 
whereupon it was decided to offer it to Mr. 
Warran, minister of Hendon.' Above this state- 
ment in the register are written these not very 
complimentary lines : 
' 'Tvas Jeroboam's practice and his sport 
Priests to elect out of the baser sort.' 
Another curious memorandum in the register 
of Everley, Wilts, dated September 29, I66o, 
describes the appointment of one William Eastman, 
commonly called Tinker, by occupation a brass 
founder, and his expulsion, on the restoration ot 
Charles II., and concludes with these amusing lines : 
' Exit Tinker, let all men henceforth know 
A thorn was planted xvhere a vine should grmv ; 

Parson and People. 

of the said parsonage, being an impropriation, it is 
endowed with a Vicarage, and a Vicar presented 
thereunto, he held himself freed in law from any 
further charge, and that the said parsonage was 
in lease with such other-like excuses, but that 
notwithstanding he was contented to procure 
them twelve sermons every year ; their Lordships 
thought fitting this day to call him to the board,' 
and they then reminded him that, ' beside the great 
obligations they had as Christians, it behoved 
them to press his Lordship, notwithstanding 
the former excuses, to have yet a further care of 
the teaching so great a multitude--.there being 
4,000 people--considering how busy the priests 
and jesuits are in these days, especially in these 
parts, not only labouring to corrupt his Majesty's 
subjects in their religion, but also infecting them 
with such damnable positions and doctrine touch- 
ing their allegiance unto his Majesty's sacred 
'\Vhereupon the said Bishop made offer unto 
the board that he would withdraw the Vicar there 
now present, and send in his room some learned and 
religious pastor who should, as it was desired, weekly 
preach, unto the people, and carefully instruct 
them m points of faith and religion, of which 
their Lordships were pleased to accept for the 
present, and accordingly enjoined him to the 
performance thereof, and withal ordered that the 
said preacher now to be presented, should first be 
approved and allowed by the Lord Archbishop of 
York in respect of ability and sufficiency.' 
In the register of Sandwich, under February 4, 

5 - Social L1]/k as Tol, l by Parish Registers. 

i646-47 , is entered the burial of Mr. Samuel 
Prichard, minister and preacher of God's Word ; 
' and it appears from the books of the Corporation 
that in the year 6II the Corporation allowed 
thirty pounds to Mr. Richard Marston, preacher 
of God's Vord, to be entertained to preach a 
weekly lecture in the town'; and in the year 
i6I 4 the same sum was allowed 'for a like 
service to Mr. Geere, Master of Arts.' 
On the other hand, sometimes we find a parson 
over-anxious not to give offence to his parishioners. 
A memorandum at the end of the register of 
Newdigate Church, Surrey, made in the year 
I634, by a cautious Rector, to prevent any rights 
being compromised by his admitting a parishioner 
to receive the Holy Sacrament in his church at 
Easter, is worthy of mention: 'An. Dora. I634. 
Mart a. Be it known to all men by these 
presents that I John Butcher dwellinge in a certain 
tenement of which question hath been made many 
yeeres whether it lie in Charlewood or Newdigate, 
and is not yet decided, upon grant and leave given 
me and to my friends.., and to receye ye 
Sacrament at Easter next for this one time at ye 
parish Church of Newdigate yt y same may not be 
prejudicial to ye parish of Newdigate for ye time 
to come, and do confesse that I have y said 
libertie for this time by leave. And in witness 
hereof I have hereunto set mine hand y day and 
yeere above written.' 
Then follows another note in continuation, 
signed and attested as before: 'Also ye said 
Ch  Butcher desired leave for himselfe and family 

54 Social LiJ as 7bM by Parish Registers. 

'Feb. x, 749- The Company of Singers, 
by the consent of the Ordinary, were forbidden 
to sing any more by the Minister, upon account 
of their frequent ill-behaviour in the Chancel, 
and their ordering the Carpenter to pull down 
part of the Belfry without leave from the Minister 
and Churchwardens.' 
On another day, March 8: 'The Clerk 
gave out the oo th Psalm, and the singers imme- 
diately opposed him, and sung the 5 th, and bred 
a disturbance. The Clerk then ceased.' And 
under x752 it is entered: 'Robert Johnson 
buried, and a sermon preached to a noisy con- 
gregation.' But these were not the only cases of 
insubordination which disturbed the Rector's mind ; 
for on one occasion, when the Acton ringers came 
over, the churchwarden ordered the belfry door to 
be broken open for them to ring, 'contrary to the 
Canon and leave of the minister.' The parish, in 
truth, seems to have grown more unruly as time 
went on; for one day 'the ringers and other 
inhabitants disturbed the service from the begin- 
ning of prayers to the end of the sermon, by 
ringing the bells, and going into the gallery to 
spit below ' ; and at another time ' a fellow came 
into Church with a pot of beer and a pipe,' and 
remained 'smoking in his own pew until the end 
of the sermon. ' 
But however unfortunate the Rector of Hayes 
may have been in being subjected to such scandals, 
there were equally obstreperous individuals in 
- See' Parish Registers in the Uxbridge Deanery': the 
_4tiuar', vol. xviii., p. 6 5. 

Parson and People. 

other parishes. Thus, in Middleham register we 
find this strange entry: 
'Burials.--October 29 th 792--1 enter under 
the head of burials, as spiritually dead, the names 
of John Sadler, Clerk to Mr. John Breare, 
Attorney-at-law, of this place, and Christopher 
Felton, Clerk to Mr. Luke Yarker, Attorney-at- 
law, of this place: first, for irrelevant behaviour a 
second time after public reproof on a former 
occasion of the same sort ; and secondly, 
when mildly admonished by me not to repeat the 
same, they both made use of the most scandalous 
and insolent words concerning myself, for which 
I thought proper to pass a public censure upon 
them after sermon--though they were wilfully 
absent--in the face of the congregation, and enter 
the mention of the same in this book, that the 
names of those insolent young men may go down 
to posterity as void of all reverence to God and 
his ministers.' 
And under February I2, I6O, it is entered 
in the Greystoke registers: 
'This daye two Sermons by Mr. p'son one 
affore none and the other after none and Edward 
Dawson taylyor did openlye conffess before the 
Congregation that he had abused the mynister S r 
Matthew Gibson upon the Saboth daye at Eaven- 
inge prayer.' 
Cases of this kind were far from uncommon, 
and the Rector of Scotter, Lincolnshire, has 
chronicled this note in his register : 
' i667-8. Jan. 19. mere. That on Septuagesima 
Sunday one Francis Drury, an excommunicate 

5 6 Social Lb as Tdd by Parish Registers. 

person, came into the Church in time of divine 
service in ye morning, and being admonisht by me 
to be gon, hee obstinately refused, whereupon ye 
whole congregation departed ; and after the same 
manner m the afternoon the same day he came 
againe, and refusing to againe go out, the whole 
cong.regation again went home, so yt little or hoe 
service performed that day. I prevented his 
further coming in y' manner, as he threatened, by 
order from the justice upon the Statute of Queen 
Elizabeth concerning the molestation and disturb- 
ance of public preachers--O tempora! O mores !' 
Another parson seems to have been much 
disquieted in his mind on account of the laxity 
of the parish clerk in keeping the register, and 
was afraid blame might one day be given to him 
by his parishioners. Hence the Vicar of Carshalton 
thought it his duty to make the following memo- 
randum in his register, dated March o, 65I , 
which has the merit of originality : 
' Good Reader tread gently : 
'For though these vacant yeares may seeme to 
make me guilty of thy censure, neither will I 
simply excuse myselfe from all blemishe; yet if 
thou doe but cast thine eye upon the former pages 
and see with what care I have kept the Annalls of 
mine owne tyme, and rectifyed sundry errors of 
former times, thou wilt begin to think ther is 
some reason why he that began to build so well 
should not be able to make an ende. 
'The truth is that besyde the miserys and 
distractions of those ptermitted years which it 
may be God in his owne wysedome would not 

Parso, and People. 


suffer to be kept uppon record, the special ground 
of that ptermission ought to be imputed to Richard 
Finch, the p'ishe Clerke, whose office it was by 
long pscrition to gather the ephemeris, or dyary 
by the dayly passages, and to exhibit them once a 
yeare to be transcribed into this registry; and 
though I often called upon him agayne and agayne 
to remember his chadge, and he always told me 
that he had the accompts lying by him, yet at 
last p'ceaving his excuses, and revolving upon 
suspicion of his words to put him home to a full 
tryall I found to my great griefe that all his 
accompts was written in sand, and his words 
c6mitted to the empty winds. God is witness to 
the truth of this apologie, and that I made it 
knowne at some parish meetings before his own 
face, who could not deny it, neither do I write it 
to blemishe him, but to cleere my own integrity 
as far as I may, and to give accompt of this mis- 
carryage to after ages by the subscription of my 
But, it may be added, the country parsons had 
often cause to complain of the indiscretions of their 
parish clerks, whose conduct at times was far from 
what it should be. Thus, in a small work entitled 
'The Exaction and Imposition of Parish Fees 
Discovered,' by Francis Sadler (738), it is re- 
corded how 'one Phillips, Clerk to Lambeth 
Parish, ran away with the register book, whereby 
the parish became great sufferers; and in such a 
case no person that is fifty years old, and born in 
the parish, can have a transcript of the Register 
to prove themselves heir to an estate.' And Burn 

62 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

baptized in this parish Church by an order granted 
from Sir John Sedley, Knight and Baronett, Sir 
John Rayney, and Sir Isaac Sedley, Knight : 
'Whereas complaints have often been made 
unto us by many of the principal inhabitants of 
the Parish of Brenchley, that they having desired 
Mr. Gilbert minister of the said parish to baptize 
their Children, and according to the Directorie 
offered to present them before the Congregation, 
he hath neglected or refused so to do; whereby 
divers infants remain unbaptized, some of them 
above a year old, expressly contrary to the said 
' \Ve do therefore order that the parents of such 
children do bring them unto the Parish Church of 
East Peckham, whereby we desire that Mr. 
Topping, minister of the said Parish, would 
baptize them according to the said Directorie, 
they acquainting him with the day they intend 
to bring them beforehand.' 
And in the year  6o 5 a charge was made against 
the Vicar of Rochdale, that inter alia he did not ' use 
the Cross in baptism.' This explains why, in the 
folio.wing year, in several instances, a small cross is 
made in the margin of the baptismal register. 
In days gone by, it would seem that the parson 
was frequently called upon to make wills for his 
parishioners, and in one of the Sebergham parish 
registers we find a form, is given which was no 
doubt the one used for this purpose. Indeed, 
that the parson was expected to be the legal 
as well as the spiritual adviser of his parish 
may be gathered from the register above named, 

66 Social LiJk as Told y Parish Registers. 

occupied by lists of the renters of pews, with the 
sums paid by each person. At the end of each 
quarter is added a list of the presents or gratuities 
which he received in addition to the 'pewage 
money.' Many of these were from occasional 
lodgers in the village. In 167c), Sir John Pye 
made Mr. Wade a present of' Sinopsis Criticorum,' 
which he valued at thirty shillings. 
A parson, evidently fond of statistics, makes 
two long entries on the tenacity of life evinced by 
his female parishioners, and ventures a joke on 
the subject. Ten women had buried fifteen 
husbands,' and might perhaps have buried more, 
if they had had them, but all the men in Worldham 
pa.rish, at this time have had buried but three 
A curious facsimile of early shorthand is given 
in the register of St. Chad, Saddleworth, Yorkshire. 
So far as it has been deciphered, it appears to be 
an extract (rom an old ballad, entitled ' The Gallow 
Tree Jowrney'; but why it should have been 
inserted it is impossible to say; although no doubt 
it had, at the time, some local interest. _And then 
again, under 1649 , the parson, in the register ot 
Rodmarton, has given an item of chit-chat : 
' In the Windowe by the doore of the South Isle 
adjoyning to the Chancel, was a little picture in 
the glasse, of one praying in the habit of a minister 
cure baculopastorali, and under written, "Richardus 
Exall," which was broken by children, perhaps he 
was art the charge of" that window. There is also 
upon the west side of Cotes Towre, in stone, 
" Orate pro animabus Ricardi Wiat & Ricardi de 

Parson and People. 6 7 

Rodmerton"; it may bee it was this Richard which 
did joyne with the person of Cotes to build that 
Another little memorandum, preserved in the 
register of Woodmansterne, Surrey, is to this 
effect : 
'Thy whom it may concern are desired to take 
notice that the Chimny in the Hall-Chamber of 
the Parsonage House hath a Summer not far under 
one corner of it, soe that it may safely be used for 
any ordinary occasions for a small fire in a chamber, 
but it is not fit for soe great fires as the Parlour 
Chimney-- 16 7 5 2 
Oftentimes, again, the register contains a memo- 
randum by the parson of gifts to the church after 
the following, which is entered in that of Peckleton, 
Leicestershire : 
' In the beginning of this register--commencing 
in I7t4--that posterity should know how much 
it is indebted to the present age, let it be first 
recorded, that Thomas Boothby, of Tooley Park, 
Esq., who had some time before, at his own 
charge, caused very handsome rails to be made 
before the Communion table of his parish Church 
of Peckleton, did at this time give to the said 
Church a very fair silver flagon and cup for the 
use of the Lord's table. And whereas before this 
there was but three small bells, about thirteen 
hundred weight, belonging to the Church: he 
caused six--about forty hundred weight--to be 
made and new hung up, and the steeple to be 
pointed at the same time, at his own sole and 
proper expence. He gave five pounds to the 

68 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

rector, to defray the charge of underdrawing the 
Chancel.' Such remarks, whilst chronicling acts 
of munificence, are pleasing little illustrations of 
the liberal interest which the parishioner has 
generally taken in his parish church. 
We may add that, in some cases, the parson, on 
taking leave of his parishioners, has bid them 
farewell in a poetical effusion, after the following 
' Farewell, dear flock, my last kind wish receive, 
The only tribute that I now can give, 
May my past labours claim a just regard ; 
Great is the prize, and glorious the reward ; 
Transcendent joys, surpassing human thought, 
To meet in heaven, whom I on earth had taught.' 
These lines occur in the register of Great Easton, 
when ' Matthew Tomlinson, curate of this parish, 
left, Feb. , I73o.' 



OME of the old superstitions connected with 
our social life in the past have, from time 
to time, been incidentally noticed in the parish 
register; and in many instances these have been 
made the subject of special mention. As might 
be expected, there are numerous allusions to the 
great witchcraft movement, the first penal statute 
.against this form of credulity having been enacted 
in the year 54t, when Cranmer enjoined the 
clergy 'to seek for any that use charms, sorcery, 
enchantments, witchcraft, soothsaying, or any like 
craft invented by the devil.' 
An extraordinary occurrence is entered in the 
parish register of Brandeston, near Wickham 
Market, which at the present day seems scarcely 
possible. The facts are stated thus : 
' 6th May, 596. John Lowes, Vicar. 
' After he had been Vicar here about fifty years, 
he xvas executed in the time of the Long Rebellion, 
at St. Edmund's Bury, with sixty more, for being 

Superstitions and Strange Beliefs. 73 

century, persons were supposed to die from the 
effects of being bewitched. 
In the re.giste.r of Holy Island, Northumberland, 
this entry ,s given: '69,. William Cleugh, 
bewitched to death, buried 6 July'; and in the 
register of Coggeshall, Essex, under December 
27th, 699 , the burial of widow Comon is 
recorded, 'that was counted a witch.' But one of 
the most curious cases recorded is one in the 
register of Wells, dated 583, describing the 
perishing on the coast of fourteen persons (sea- 
men?) coming from Spain, 'whose deaths were 
brought to pass by the detestable working of an 
execrable witche of King's Ly,m, whose name was 
Mother Gabley ; by the boyling, or rather labour- 
ing of certayn eggs in a paylefull of colde water.' 
In the parish books of Brentford, under 
August 3, 634, this entry is given: ' Paid 
Robert Warden, the Constable, which he dis- 
bursed for carrying away the witches, 6s. ' The 
witches of Brentford, it may be remembered, were 
notorious at the beginning of the seventeenth 
century, and they are alluded to by Mrs. Page in 
' The Merry Wives of Windsor' (Act iv., sc. 2) ; 
and one of the characters in Dekker and Webster's 
'Westward Ho' says: 'I doubt that old hag, 
Gillian of Brainford, has bewitched me.' As 
recently as December 9, 748, it is recorded in 
the register of Monk's Eleigh how 'Alice, the 
wife of Thomas Green, labourer, vas swam of 
malicious and evil people having raised an ill 
report of her being a witch.' 
Kindred forms of superstition are also occa- 

74 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

sionally duly noticed. In many a country village, 
the ' wise-man,' or ' wise-woman,' was an important 
individual, having been frequently consulted by 
all classes where superior knowledge was required. 
In addition to 'casting nativities' such a person 
was, at any time, ready to give heads of families 
information as to the recovery of stolen property ; 
and oftentimes in cases of illness, when medical 
aid had failed, his or her assistance was sought as 
a last resort. In the register of St. Margaret's, 
Durham, we are informed how one 'Christopher 
Pattison, vulga dict' ye wise-man,' was buried 
March t 4, I724; and some curious particulars 
are preserved in the parish of St. Benedict Fink, 
London, respecting a certain strange prophetess, 
whose death is thus described : 
' On the morning after the fire in Sweetings 
Alley, July I2, I66O, was buried a strange maid 
out of Edward Barbour's house, being daughter 
to a prophetess, who named herself Mima Hecres, 
but would not declare neither her own right 
name, nor the maid's; yet the maid being searched 
was found to die of a fever, and so was permitted 
to be buried.' 
The fortune-teller, who plied a brisk trade in 
years gone by, also obtained due mention in the 
register, and at Stepney there was buried on 
September 24, I628, one commonly known as 
'William, a dumb man, who died in Ratcliffe 
Highway, a fortune-teller.' And then, as nowa- 
days, there was to be met with that kind of con- 
venient woman who could turn her hand to any- 
thing, her advice and knowledge having been much 

Superstitions and Strage Beliefs. 75 

in request in any case of emergency. At Attle- 
burgh, Norfolk, there was buried on August  I, 
625, ' Mary, wife of Gilberte Greene, hoastess of 
the Cock, who knew how to gain more by her 
trade than any other, and a woman flee and kind 
for any in sickness, or voman in her travail or 
childbed, and for answering for anyone's child, and 
ready to give to anyone's marriage.' 
The use of talismans, amulets and charms, 
xvhich has generally been a feature of the cunning 
contrivances of fortune-tellers and others skilled 
in secret arts--through being thought to savour 
of the same Satanic influence as witchcraft-- 
was most severely censured and punished ; and the 
register of a Scotch parish has this entry under 
November I o, 1716 : 
' Christian Lessels being charged and interrogate 
up.on threatning mallifice to her neighbour, and 
using charming for the recovery of ane child yt 
was sick, she acknowledges both these crimes, and 
says as to y" threatning she was in a passion and 
confesses her guilt y'rin, and as to y charm she 
did it simply and ignorantly being advised y'rto 
by a north countryman.' 
Gipsies, again, as dealing in the black arts, were 
specially sought after by the authorities, and as far 
back as 22 Henry VIII., there is 'an Act con- 
cerning Outlandish People, calling themselves 
Egyptians,' 'using no craft or mercha,adize, but 
deceiving people, that they by palmistry, bearing 
them in hand, can tell men's and women's fortunes, 
and so cheat people of their money, and commit 
many heinous felonies and robberies.' This Act 

8uperstitions and 8trange Beliefs. 

A curious case of the burial of a reputed gipsy, 
and of the subsequent exhumation of the body, is 
entered in the register of Mahnesbury, under 
September, x 657 : 
' John Buckle, reputed to be a Gypsie, deceased 
September 2x, 657, at John Perins house upon 
the Fosse, in Shipton Parish, in Gloucestershire, 
and was buried in King Athelstone's Chappell, by 
King Athdstone & the Ladye Marshall, within 
the Abbie Church at Malmsbury. This burial 
was September 23 ra I 657" Howbeit hee was 
taken up againe--by means of M r Thomas Frye, 
esquier, who then lived in the Abbie, C4 by the 
desyres and endeavours of others--out of the said 
Chappell, and was removed into the Churchyarde, 
and there was reburied near the east side of the 
Church porch, October 7 th 657 , in the p'sence of 
M r Tho s Frye, of the Abbie, Esq. M r Pleade- 
well, of Mudgell, esquier, Rich a Whitmore, of 
Slaughter, in the Countie of Gloucester, C4 Dr" 
(ui, of Malmesbury, with very many others.' 
A mode of divination still common among the 
lower orders is that designated the ' sieve and the 
shears,' instances of which may occasionally be 
read in the police-court reports. Accord!ng to 
the register of Bedworth, Warwickshire, in the 
year 7x5, a woman called Elizabeth Bott was 
admonished for 'using curious arts, turning the 
And in the year x79, is denounced in the 
same register ' the evil of our members going to 
be touched by a seventh son in order to cure 
diseases, and then wearing the silver he gives 

78 8ocia/ I.ilce as bld /a Paris/, _Registers. 

them.' This superstition originated in an old 
belief-also found to a large extent on the 
Continent--that the seventh son was born a 
physician, and possessed an intuitive knowledge of 
the art of healing all disorders, and even occasion- 
ally the faculty of performing wonderful cures by 
touching only. 
In the Dublin University Magazine for August, 
1879, the silver charm alluded to above is thus 
' A particular ceremony must be observed at 
the moment of the infant's birth, in order to give 
him his healing power. The person who receives 
him in her arms places in his tiny hands whatever 
substance she decides that he shall rub with in 
after-life, and she is very careful not to let him 
touch anything else until this has been accom- 
plished. If silver be the charm, she has provided 
a sixpenny or threepenny bit; but as the coinage 
of the realm may change possibly during his 
lifetime, and thus render his cure valueless,, she 
has more likely placed salt or meal on the table 
within reach.' 
In the 'Diary of Walter Yonge' (Camden 
Society), we find this entry, which is a curious 
illustration of this strange belief: 
' In January, 1606-7, it is reported from London 
by credible letters, that a child being the seventh 
son of his mother, and no woman child born 
between, healeth deaf, blind, and lame; but the 
parents of the child are popish, as so many say as 
are healed by it. The Bishop of London, Doctor 
Vaughan, caused divers to be brought to the child 

8o Social L as ToM y Parish Registers. 

On the title-page of the register of Alfold, 
Surrey, is this memorandum : 
'27, ,.7o. I gave a certificate to be touched 
for the Evil in these words: Surrey SS. These 
are to certify to whom it may concern that James 
--son of Henry--Napper bearer hereof is a legal 
inhabitant of our parish of _Alford in the County 
of Surrey aforesaid, and is supposed to have the 
disease commonly called the Evil, and hath 
desired this our certificate accordingly.' 



HE ravages of pestilence from which the 
country has at intervals suffered, form the 
subject of occasional mention in the parish register, 
the terrible mortality caused by such epidemics 
having been but rarely specially commented upon. 
Indeed, it is to be regretted that we do not 
learn more from the registers of the diseases from 
which our forefathers died. In the register of 
St. Alphage, Canterbury, we read of Richard 
Harryse, who 'died of the worms,' and in the 
year 784 small-pox is mentioned. And in the 
Hawkshead register under November 8, 577, 
this memorandum is given: ' A pestilent sickness 
was brought into the parish by one George Bar- 
wicke and thirty-eight of the inhabitants died.' 
The sweating sickness, ' the strange and peculiar 
plague of the English nation,' as Mr. Froude de- 
scribes it, first showed itself in the year 485, 
reappeared in  506, again in  517, and raged 
with fatal fury in the year  55 - This epidemic 

84 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

of St. Peter's, Cornhill, where, under the year 1593, 
this memorandum is entered in the margin : 

" Thear dyed in London in all- - 25,886 
Of them of the plague in all- - 15,003 
Within the walles and liberties - 8,598 
Without, in & out of liberties - 17,288' 

Then follow these two entries: 

' Innumeros quamius consumpsit, morbida pestis 
Seruait dominus meq' domumq' meam.' 

' In a thousand five hundred ninety & three, 
The Lord preserved my house and mee. 
When of the pestilence theare died 
Full maine a thousand els beeside.' 

In the year 1594 there was ' the first plague in 
Ashborne,' and the following curious memorandum 
occurs in the register of Cranbrook, Kent: 
' In this year following, 1597, began the great 
plague in Cranbrook, the which continued from 
April the yr afs a to July 13, 1598. I t, it was 
observed that before this infection that God, about 
a year or two before, took away by death many 
honest and good men and women. _-. That the 
judgment of God for sin was much before threat- 
ened, especially for that vice of Drunkenness which 
abounded that. 3- That this infection was in all 
quarters of the Parish except Hartly quarter. 
4- That the same begun in the house of one 
Brightelling, out of which much theiving was 
committed, and that it ended in the House of one 
Henry Grynnock, who was a pott companion, and 

Epidemics. 8 5 

his wife noted much for incontinence, which both 
died excommunicated. 5- That this infection 
gott almost into all the hms and Suckling Houses 
of the Town, places then of much misorder, so 
that God did seem to punish that himself which 
others did neglect and not regard. 6. Together 
with this infection there was a great dirth at the 
same time, which was cause also of much wailing 
and sorrow. 7- This was most grievous unto me 
of all, that this judgment of God did not draw 
people unto repentance the more, but many by it 
seemed the more hardened in their sin.' And 
there is added this note: 'Now also this year 
others of the plague were buried near to their 
several dwellings, because they could get none 
to carry them into the Church, for it was the 
beginning of this infection, so that none would 
venture themselves. The certain day of their 
burials one could not learn.' 
A memorandum in the parish register of Lough- 
borough informs us that 'the assizes were kept 
and held at Loughborough, the 17 'h day of July, 
because the plague was in Leicester,' and adds, 
' there were eight persons executed and buried the 
I9 'h day of July in this year 1654] 
Under the year 6o3, it ,_s recorded in the 
registers of St. Peter's, Cornhill, that from 
December 23, 1602, there were buried in this 
parish 58 persons, and 'of them of the plague 
87'; and it is added: 'Buried in all this yeare 
both without and within the liberties ; and in the 
8 out parishes from the I4 th July, 38,2,44: of 
them of the plague 31,578.' And the epidemic 

86 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

of 16o 3 is denoted in the registers of St. Dunstan's 
in the West, London, by a very considerable 
increase of interments, and by a total absence of 
persons of rank or importance, for all who pos- 
sessed means of escape had fled. 
In the year 16o4, an entry in the register of 
St. Giles, Durham, tells how ' Ann Ourd, wife of 
Christopher Ourd, was buried on 25 th Janr,' and 
significantly adds,' So all the household dyed in the 
vicitacion at this time, and so ye plague ceased.' 
The parish register of Nantwich gives the 
following account of this terrible epidemic: 
'16o4, July. This yeare together with the 
former yeare and the year following this Realme 
of England was vissited with a contagious plauge 
generally: whereof many thousands in London, 
and other townes and Cities dyed of the same. 
The said plauge begane in our Towne of Nampt- 
wich about the :4 th June 16o4, being brought 
out of Chester and here dispersed diversly, soe yt 
presently our Market was spoyled, the town 
abandoned of all the wealthy inhabitants, who 
fledd for refuge into dieurs places of the Country 
adjoyninge. But of those which remained at 
home ther Dyed from the  2ti June till the 2 'a 
March followinge about the number of 430 persons 
of all deseases. Now seeing God in mercy hath 
withdrawn his punishinge hand, and hath quenched 
the spark of contagious infection among us, God 
graunt that we by Repentaunce may prevent 
further punishment  that the remembrance of 
this plauge past, may remain in our hearts for that 
purpose for ever. Amen.' 

Ephtemic. 8 7 

Peterborough was in the year 16o6 visited by 
the plague, for, according to a marginal memo- 
randum, 'Henry Renoulds came from London 
where he dwelt, sicke of the plague and died ; so 
did his sonne, his daughter, and his servant ; only 
his wyfe and her mayde escaped with Soars. The 
plague brought by this means to Peterborough 
continued there till September following.' 
In the year I625 , we learn from the register of 
Little Marlow, Bucks, that 'Mary, the wife of 
William Borlase, July 18, I625, a gratuitous ladye 
she was, dyed of the plague, as did eighteen more,' 
showing that the terrible visitation of this year, 
which is said to have taken off in London alone 
as many as 35,47 persons, extended its ravages 
into most parts of the country. The desolation it 
caused in Cheshire is evident from the subjoined 
entries in the register of Malpas, relating only to 
one family" 
' I625, Aug. 3- Thomas Dawson of Bradley, 
Thomas Jefferies his servant, and Richard Dawson, 
his son, were buried in the night. Ralph Dawson, 
another son of Thomas, came from London about 
the 25 th of July past, and being sick of the plague 
died in his father's house, and infected the said 
house, and was buried, as was reported, neare unto 
his father's house.' 
On August  5 Thomas Dawson was buried at 
3 a.m. Later on in the same month we have the 
harrowing scene of a plague-stricken man digging 
his own grave, and knowing that the survivors of 
his family would be unable to bury him. 
'Aug. 24. Richard Dawson, brother to the 

88 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

above-named Thomas Dawson of Bradley, being 
sicke of the plague and perceyveing he must die 
at yt time, arose out of his bed and made his 
grave, and caused his nefew John Dawson to cast 
strawe into the grave, w'ch was not far from the 
house, and went and lay'd him down in the sayd 
grave, and caused clothes to be layd uppon, and 
so dep'ted out of this world ; this he did, because 
he was a strong man, and heavier than his said 
nefew and another vench vere able to bury. He 
died about the xxiv th of August. Thus much 
was I credibly tould he did.' 
A few days later on his son was seized with 
the plague, and died in a ditch. 
'Aug. 2 9. John Dawson sonne of the above- 
mentioned Thomas Dawson, came unto his father 
when his father sent for him being sicke, and 
haveyng layd him down in a dich, died in the 
night.' And on September I5 this entry occurs : 
' Rose Smyth, servant of the above-named Thomas 
Davson, and the last of y* household, died of 
p/ague, and was buryed by W TM Cooke near unto 
the said hows.' 
The whole household was thus exterminated. 
And yet, happily, there seems to have been an 
exception to this terrible mortality, for a memor- 
andum in the register of Witham, under the 
year i625, rnus thus: 'It is remarkable that 
in this yeare, being a time of plague and mortality 
over the whole kingdom, there was no buriall. 
Laus Deo.' 
In the register of St. Dunstan's in the West, 
London, all who died, or were supposed to die, of 

Epidemics. 8 9 

the epidemic of I625, are marked with a P, the 
first entry so distinguished running thus- 
'June 25. P. Isabell Cadman, wid', from the 
backeside of the bell.' 
It appears that in this visitation as many as 754 
persons perished in one parish, part of which was 
then fields and gardens, and the whole population 
of which in the year 83I was only 3,443- 
Scarcely 'any other persons above the untitled 
commonalty are to be found in the register ; but 
there is a servant of Lady Bret, and a woman 
from Sir Robert Rich's? In Nichols''Collectanea 
Topographica et Genealogica,' v. 384, the ' whole 
career of this tyrant malady' is given, with the 
mortality from day to day. 
An entry from Isham register, under the year 
63o, says that ' this yeare was a great plague at 
Cambridge, so that ther was no Stirbryshe Fair 
kept, and this was a dear yeare, wheat at eight 
shillings a strike, Pease six shillings and Mault at 
six shillings & eightpence--Pease at five shillings 
never so deare as at this time.' And another 
outbreak occurred fourteen years later on, in  644, 
at Egglescliffe, Durham, the register containing 
this memorandum : ' In this year there died of the 
plauge in this towne, one a!ad twenty people; 
they are not all buried in the Churchyard, and are 
not m the Register.' The circumstances, writes 
Burn,* 'of persons being buried in the fields, 
who had died of the plague, will, in many cases, 
satisfactorily account for the discovery of human 
bones in the vicinity of towns and villages. A 
-  History of Parish Registers,' p. I I . 

Epidemics. 9  

shire, makes this remark on the parish of Wigston : 
' I find no mention of any particular disorder having 
been in this town, whence it may be concluded to 
be a healthful situation. In the year I77I the 
disorder mostly complained of was the ague ; and 
it was found difficult to cure, chiefiy owing, I 
apprehend, to the water being suffered to lay in 
the streets, the passages to carry it off not being 
properly opened; a real fen, or an artificial one, 
having the same effect on the human frame.' 
In the year I'O 3 an epidemic of fever seems to 
have broken out in the neighbourhood of Coiling- 
bourne Ducis, connected with which may be quoted 
the subjoined entries : 
'William Brown buryed May I% Memdumw 
the five last registered died of a feavour which was 
very fatall in ys and ye upper parish--Coiling- 
bourne Kingston--and nmre especially to such 
who were lett bloud in ye time of y sicknesse ; 
fifteen died in Collingbourne Kingston within ten 
weekes; y distemper probably caused y late 
mild winter. 
' 1703 . Robert Marshman, of y same distemper 
June ye 6 th. By experience it was found y a 
c0mon medicine called Decoctum Sacrum was of 
excellent use, few dying of yS feavour who made 
use of y remedy.' 
Similar scraps of folk-medicine are occasionally 
entered in the register. Thus, the following 
recipe for the plague is given at the end of the 
register for burials belonging to St. Swithun's, East 
Retford. The writing is much faded, and has 

9 . Social Li./} as Told by Parish Registers. 

been transcribed in a later hand underneath. The 
original runs as follows: 
'In ye time of a plague let ye person either 
infected or fearfull of ye infection take a penny- 
worth of dragon water a pennorth of oyle olive, 
methradate I d & treacle I a then take an onion, 
 fill it full of pepper w  you scraped it, y roast 
it; and after yt put it to y* liquor  strain  
drink it in y* morning, and if you take y* same at 
night lay soap and bay salt to your feet  sweat 
upon it,  with God's blessing you shall recover.' 
In the parish register of Swettenham, Cheshire, 
is the following remedy for the bite of a mad dog : 
' I7o4--To cure the bite of a mad dog or cat. 
'Fake six ounces of rue, small sliced, four ounces of 
garlic stampt  pild, four ounces of mithridate or 
Venice treacle, four ounces of syruppe, or tilde or 
scrapt pure English tin or peawter; boyle these 
in 5 pints of old all over a gentle fire for an hour, 
then strain it, and keep the liquor in a glass or 
close vessel. 
' And thus you are to use this medicine: 
'To a man that is bit you are to give 8 or 9 
spoonfulls warm in a morning fasting, and every 
day apply some of the ingredients which remain 
after the liquor is strained off" to the wound ; but 
give it cold to beasts. To a sheep 3 spoonfulls, 
to a dog 4, to a horse or cow between 16 . I 8, 
and they must be given 7 or 8 days together after 
the bite. 
' If you add a handfull of ash-coloured liver- 
wort to this receipt, it hath been found an excellent 
thing, it grows on all dry grounds.' 

E[ddemic s. 9 3 

With this curious recipe we may compare an 
equally odd one for curing the bite of a mad dog 
hung up in Sunninghill Church : 
'Six ounces of rue picked from the stalk, and 
bruised; four ounces of garlic, bruised; four 
ounces of Venice treacle, & four ounces of 
scrapings of pewter. These are to be boiled in 
two quarts of strong ale over a slow fire, until 
reduced to one quart; the liquor then to be 
strained off, and kept close corked in a bottle. 
Nine spoonfuls, warm, to a man or woman fasting, 
for seven mornings successively & six spoonfuls to 
a dog. Apply some of the ingredients, warm, to 
the bitten part.' 
This recipe, it is said, was taken from Gathorp 
Church, Lincolnshire, where many persons had 
been bitten by a mad dog. Those who used the 
medicine recovered; those who did not died mad. 



HE severity with which notorious delinquents 
were punished in olden times forms the 
subject of many an entry in the parish register. 
Prompt and stern measures were taken by local 
authorities to restrain those who endangered the 
place or created a public scandal, the mode of 
punishment adopted occasionally serving as a 
wholesome deterrent to others. 
Many villages, for instance, had a cucking or 
ducking stool, in which off'enders against the 
common weal were placed, and at Kingston-on- 
Thames we are told how, on Tuesday, August i9, 
 570.., the wife of a man named Downing, 'grave- 
maker of this parish, was set on a new cukking 
stolle made of great hight, and so brought about 
the Market place to Temes brydge, and there had 
three duckings overhead and eres, because she was 
a common scolde and fyghter.' And from the 
churchwardens' accounts for the same year we 
may presume that the following bill of expenses 
were for this cucking-stool : 

Paris/ Scandals and Punislnents. 97 

beggar xvoman of Slapton' was 'whipt at Ment- 
more,' Oxon; and at Brentford, on February 26, 
1698, ' Alice and Elizabeth Pickering, wandering 
Children, were whipped according to Law and 
sent with a Pass to Shrewsbury, the place where 
they were born.' The reference here is to the 
vagrant laws--in force until the year 1744--which 
enacted that any persons found begging 'were, by 
the appointment of the head-borough, or tithing- 
man, assisted by the advice of the minister of the 
parish, to be openly whipped till they were bloody, 
and then sent from parish to parish, until they 
came to the parish in which they were born.' 
To quote further instances, in the register of 
Godalming, under April 26, 1658 , this memo- 
randum is given : 
' Here was taken a vagrant, one Mary Parker, 
widow with a child, and she was whipped according 
to law, about the age of thirty years, proper of 
personage; and she was to go to the place of her 
birth that is in Gravesend, in Kent, and she is 
limited to iiij days, and to be carried from tithing 
to Tything till she comes to the end of the said 
And at the end of the register belonging to the 
Church of St. Mary, at Cerne Abbas, is a copy of 
the statute of 39 Elizabeth for the suppression of 
rogues, vagabonds and sturdy beggars, the persons 
punishable being scholars and wayfaring men, 
fencers, etc., who were to be whipped and sent 
out ' of the parish.' _And to show the careful 
manner in which the law had been carried out, 
the subjoined memorandum may be quoted : 

98 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

' I66I--a registered book for all such rogues 
and vagabonds as have been punished according to 
law at Cerne Abbas, in Derbyshire. Oct. I I-- 
James Balden and E. Balden his wife, Thomas 
Balden, Robert Balden, and E. Balden, their sons, 
and Joseph Dallinger rogues, vagabonds, and 
sturdy beggars, weare punished according to law 
at Cerne Abbas, and sent with testimoniall from 
Constable to Constable to Powell, in Cornwall, the 
place of their ordinary abode, there to worke at 
hard labour as good subjects ought to do.' 
Again, at Wadhurst, Sussex, many cases of 
whipping occurred in the year 1633 , the register 
having these entries: 
' I I th June, Anne Diplock was whipped for a 
' IO th Dec. John Palmer and Alice, his wife, were 
whipped for rogues.' 
' 23 ra. Thomasina Hemming, John Ballard, Mar- 
gery Oiles, Robert Spray, and John Sargent whipped.' 
How universal the practice of whipping offenders 
was in days of old may be gathered from John 
Taylor, 'the Water Poet,' who, writing in the 
year 63o, says : 
' In London, and within a mile, I ween, 
There are jails or prisons full eighteen, 
And sixty whipping-posts, and stocks and cages.' 
The register of Kensington parish contains this 
entry: ' William Laughford was punished as a 
Roage the 1 t December 1604. William Brewer 
and Kathren his wyf were pu'shed eodem.' 
The register of Little Brickhill, which contains 
the names of flAy-two criminals who were executed 

Parka Scandals and Punishments. 99 

in this parish between the years 56 and I62o, 
also has the following important entry: 'Cecely 
Reves was buried the same day, burned.' A 
similar entry is given in the registry of All Saints', 
Derby, under August t, t556: ' A poor blinde 
woman called Joan Waste of this parish, a martyr, 
burned in Windmill Pit.' And at Richmond, 
Yorkshire, it is recorded how Richard Snell was 
burnt, and buried on September 9; and the 
following note by Archdeacon Blackburne is ap- 
pended to this entry: 'Concerning this matter, 
Mr. John Fox, the Martyrologist, writes thus: 
" There were two of the Snells taken up for their 
religion. One, after his toes were rotted off by 
lying in prison, by order of Dakins, the Bishop of 
Chester's Commissary, and so went upon crutches, 
at last went to mass, having a certain sum of 
money given him by the people; but in three or 
four days after, drowned himself in a river called 
Swail, by Richmond. The other Snell was 
Under May 6, 64o, a curious and interesting 
entry relative to military discipline is to be found 
in the registers of St. Andrew's, Newcastle, which 
records how two 'sogers for denying the kynges 
pay was by a kownsell of war appoynted to be 
shot at a pare of galos set up before Tho Malabars 
in the byg [-barley] market. They kust lores wich 
should dy and the lotes did fall on one Mr. Anthone 
Viccars and he was set against a wall and shot at 
by six light horsemen, and was bured in owr 
churchyard the same day May 6.' 
And in the register of St. Mary Magdalene, 

Parka Scandals and Punis/tments. o 3 

And, he adds, there used to be a piece of land 
in Bilston, as appears from the old rate assessment 
books, known as ' No Man's Piece,' where the 
bodies of unfortunate persons, who had been 
gibbeted, were buried, tip to the last few years 
a lane between Bilston and "Volverhampton was 
po.pula.rly designated Gibbet Lane, a local tradition 
assgmng it as the locality where the gibbet 
formerly stood. 
Many remarkable cases of penance performed 
in the parish church for acts of unchastity have 
been preserved, it having been required that 
persons guilty of any such scandal should openly 
confess the same. Attired in a white sheet, and a faggot, the offender was placed in some 
conspicuous place in the sacred edifice, where, in 
the presence of the parishioners, a public acknow- 
ledgment of the wrong committed was made in 
a prescribed form of words. The register of 
Croydon tells us how a certain Margaret Sherioux 
did not long survive her disgrace. It appears that 
' she was enjoined to stand three market days in 
the town and three Sabbath days in the Church ; 
in a white sheet, with a paper on her back and 
bosom showing her sin. She stood one 
Saturday and one Sunday, and died the next.' 
\Ve learn from the register of North Aston, 
Oxfordshire, that aMr. Cooper sent in a form 
of penance by Mr. Wakefield, of Deddington, 
that Catherine King should do penance in the 
parish Church of North Aston on the sixth day of 
March, I74O, and accordingly she did.' But 
from the same record it appears that another 

Social Life as 7bld by Parish Registers. 

person who had become a mother before she was 
made a wife left the parish to avoid doing public 
But not infrequently those convicted of creating 
a public scandal in the parish tried, as far as 
possible, to evade punishment, and accordingly an 
entry m the Grindon registers, dated May 23, 
I725, runs thus: 'By virtue of a mandate from 
the Bishop's Court, James Meakin, Jun r was ex- 
communicated for contempt of the said Court, he 
being charged with fornication and not appearing 
to answer the Charge.' But five years afterwards 
he appears to have been in a better frame of 
mind, for another entry, dated May I9, I73O , 
informs us that ' James Meakin, Jun r did penance 
in this Church and was thereby restored to the 
Communion of the Church, pursuant to a mandate, 
and absolution taken out of the Bishop's Court, 
dated April 23 rd i73o.' 
Similarly, two young women, as appears from 
the parish register of Wadhurst, acted in a like 
manner : ' 677. July I6 'h Eleonora Woodgate 
et Sarah Moore n Ecclesia. Parochiali inter 
Divinorum solemnia palam publice et solemniter 
denunciate et declarate fuerunt pro excommuni- 
'April 5 'h Eleonora .Woodgate et Sarah Moore 
in Ecclesia Parochiali nter Divinorum solemnia 
palam publice et solemniter pcenitentiam agebant.' 
In the eighteenth century, penance for im- 
morality was of frequent occurrence, and instances 
are noticed in most old parish documents, a form 
of public penance for offenders guilty of fornica- 

Parisl Scandals and Punislments. o 5 

tion being preserved in the register of Dalton-le- 
Dale. At Roxby, l.incolnshire, ' Michael Kirby 
and Dixon \Vid had two bastard children, one in 
XT:ZS, ye other in I727, for which they did publick 
Penance in our Parish Church, Feb. :z 5. 727 for 
Adultery ;' and on November 25, I77, at Sutton 
Vallence, Kent, the register tells how'Elizabeth 
Stace did public penance for ye foul sin of adultery 
committed with Tho  Hutchins, Jun T, in Sutton 
Vallence Church, as did Anne Hynds fcr ye foul 
sin of fornication committed with Tho  Daws.' 
But for a lesser offence than adultery it would 
seem that a person was required to do penance, 
as may be gathered from the parish-books of the 
parishes of St. Mary Woolnoth and St. Mary 
Woolchurch Haw, in the city of London (I538- 
I76o). One entry, for instance, is to this effect : 
'Item, payd a certyficate of penaunce done by 
Sheppards wyfe and the powlter for openinge there 
wyndowes one the Sabbath dale (t59 o) sixteen 
pence.' And in some cases the excommunication 
of persons for only trivial offences is noticed in our 
parish records--an evidence of the severity of 
Church discipline in bygone times. An entry in 
the register of .Quorndon, Leicestershire, records 
'an excommunication against Anne Turlington, 
the wife of Thomas Turlington, in not sending 
an inventory by order of the Ecclesiastical Court 
in Leicester ;' and the register of Shoreditch records 
how, on June 7,  619, ' John Edwards, being 
excommunicated, was buried the 7 June in the 
King's high-waie in Hollywell Laine near the 

Io6 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

And among further instances of excommunica- 
tion may be quoted two or three cases entered in 
the register of Stokesley, from which we learn that 
'Nicholas Mewburn, of Stokesley, weaver, was 
excommunicated the 3 d day of February, I744-5, 
for refusing to pay his Easter offerings to the 
minister.' On February 22, I746 , May Wemes 
was excommunicated for fornication; and on 
November I5, i747, Clara Johnson was excorn- 
municated for contumacy of the Consistory Court 
of St. Peter's, York, in a cause of slander or 
defamation with John Heath, of Whitby, gentle- 
man. And on a flyleaf at the end of one of the 
Aldbrough registers, Yorkshire, there is a memo- 
randum to the effect that, in the year 634 , by 
order of Dr. Easdall, Michael Gilbert, the Vicar, 
excommunicnted about fifty persons. And again 
in the year I663 he excommunicated about thirty 
more by the order of Dr. Burwell. In both 
instances the names are given in full. And then 
comes the following : 
' MR. GLBErT. If any recusant being excom- 
municated shall be buryed in any place but in 
Church or Churchyard, his executors shall forfitt 
thirtie Pounds by Statute, therefore I conceive you 
ought to burie him, but let it be accordinge 
to the forme of the Churche of England, these 
directions were sent under Dr. Burwell's own hand, 
Aug. I8, i643 , when Sir Thomas Tanckred was 
to be buried. THOMAS BVrWELL.' 



HE r.eprese.ntative character of the parish 
register 1s one of its most remarkable 
features, for on its pages are enrolled, side by side, 
the names of the high and low, rich and poor, 
without distinction. It has been aptly described as 
the'World's Great Roll,' for, as some lines in a 
Shropshire register tell us : 
' No flattery here, where to be born and die 
Of rich and poor is all the history ; 
Enough, if virtue fill'd the space between-- 
Prov'd, by the ends of being, to have been.' 
And Lord Eldon once remarked that, ' while the 
rich had their title-deeds, their parchments, and 
their sculptured monuments, there was literally no 
record of the poor man>s birth or death except the 
parish register, which might not inaptly be called 
the Charter of the Poor Man. ' 
But apart from the mere registration of names, 
much curious information is incidentally given, 
" Hansard, cxxxii. 576. 

Birth and Baptism.  0 9 

the clock at night ; the father she knew not, but 
the said Alexander by them that brought the child 
to be baptized, requested that it might be recorded 
in his name.' 
The term ' Children of God' or 'Creatura 
Christi' was also applied to illegitimate children, 
but the phrase would seem also to have been 
applied in the sixteenth century to infants baptized 
by the midwife, as in the parish register of Staple- 
hurst, Kent: 'x547. Ther was baptized by the 
mid-wyffe, and so buried, the childe of Thomas 
Goldham, called creature.' And in' Piers Plow- 
man' we find the word used : 
' I conjured him at the laste 
If he were Cristes Creature 
Anoon me to tellen. 
"I am Cristes Creature," quod he ; 
" In Cristes Court by knowe wel, 
And of his kyn a party."' 
Occasionally such children lived to be married, 
as another entry in Staplehurst register shows: 
' 579- July 9. Marryed John Haffynden, 
and Creature Cheseman, young folke.' 
Connected with the births of illegitimate children, 
may be noticed the oftentimes pathetic and sad 
entries relating to foundlings, the naming of 
whom, at times, sorely taxed our forefathers. But 
one way out of the difficulty was to give the child 
the name of the parish in which it was found; and 
by the Temple register it appears that from the 
year 728 to 755 as many as o4 foundlings 
were christened there, all of whom were named 
Temple or Templer. And from the register of 

Birth and Bptism. I I I 

 To name an infant, met our village sires, 
Assembled all, as such events requires. 
Frequent and full the rural sages sate, 
And speakers many urged the long debate. 
Some harden'd knave, who rov'd the country round, 
Had left a babe within the parish bound. 
First, of the fact they questioned, "Was it true ?" 
The child xvas brought--xvhat then remained to do ? 
"Was't dead or living ?" This xvas fairly proved, 
'Twas pinched--it roar'd--and every doubt remov'd. 
Then by what name th' umvelcome guest to call 
Was long a question, and it pos'd them all. 
For he who lent a name to babe unknown, 
Censorious men might take it for his own. 
They look'd about, they ask'd the name of all, 
And not one Richard ansxver'd to the call. 
Next they inquir'd the day, vhen, passing by, 
Th' unlucky peasant heard the stranger cry ; 
This knovn, how food and raiment they might give 
Was next debated, for the rogue vould live ; 
At last, xvith all their words and xvorks content, 
Back to their homes the prudent vestry vent, 
And Richard Monday to the workhouse sent. 
Long lost to us, our man at last we trace, 
Sir Richard Monday died at Monday Place.' 
Although many of these poor children did not 
long survive their baptism, yet it is fair to presume 
that some became founders of families, for, as it 
has been pointed out by Mr. Nicholls, the surname 
of Dunstan is found in numerous entries in St. 
Dunstan's register--among others, Thomas Dun- 
stan, Pater of the Rolls, buried I6C3--and still 
remains in the parish. 
To quote further cases in the register of St. 
Peter's, Cornhill, there are entries of a vast number 
of foundlings, who, according to a common custom, 
were all surnamed Peter, after the saint to whom 

Social L[fe as Told by Parish Registers. 

the parish church was dedicated; one of them 
bears the name of Symon Peter.  
And the following entry is from the transcripts 
of St. Mary's, Dover : 
' July 24, I7 8. Susanna daughter of Francis 
and Margaret Hamilton: this poor woman's maiden 
name is Margaret Brown: her child-birth pains fell 
upon her at the half-way-house betwixt this and 
Canterburie, and she brought her child here to my 
house and I christen'd it. She herself [and] her 
ancient fither and mother are going to Francis 
Hamilton in New England, where they say he is 
settl'd in a plantation left him by his deceased 
brother who lived there.' 
And in the registers of St. Antholin, London, 
under January 8, 1618, this quaint entry occurs: 
'Margery dau to William Semer, his wife or 
quene a vagrant came out from turnebull Street, 
& thether went againe, till hit belly bee full, shee 
was delivered at Mrs. Smith's doore one Christmas 
day, her child was chr 8.' 
It is remarkable that, during the four years 
from 758 to I76 inclusive, there are about fifty 
entries of burials of foundlings in the Twickenham 
register, from which it has been inferred that either 
a foundling hospital must have existed in the 
neighbourhood at that time, or that the exposure 
of infants upon the unenclosed lands hereabouts 
must have been frightfully common. But the 
former conjecture, perhaps, is the more probable, 
especially as several interments occur in previous 
-* 'Registers of St. Peter's, Cornhill' (Harleian Society), 
877. Preface, xiii. 

Birth nd Baptism. x  3 

years, being described as ' from ye Foundling Hos- 
pital.'* And a correspondent of Notes and 
(eries baptized a child Benjamin Simon Jude. 
On expressing some surprise at the strange con- 
junction, he was informed that the child was born 
on the festival of St. Simon and St. Jude, and that 
it was always considered very unlucky to take the 
day from the child. 
Among further entries of a similar kind in the 
registers of St. Andrew's Church, Newcastle, under 
February 3, 634 , this curious one occurs: 
' Margaret, sup' d [supposed daughter] to Richard 
Richardson. Suerties. Charles Robson, Margaret 
Thompson and Margaret Maddison. It was 
borne under a wayne before Richard Aplbyes dore 
in a morning in a sore frost and shaw it came of a 
sudan to us or ells it had p'ished, and wee knew 
not whence it so wee had nothing.' And a 
menaorandum in Kensington register records how 
' a woman child, of the age of one year and a half 
or thereabouts, being found in her swadlinge 
clothes, layed at the Ladye Cooper's gate, baptized 
by the name of Mary .Troovie, x o th October.' 
Comical mistakes m the naming of children 
often seem to have occurredin most cases made 
by the parents, and afterwards laid by some of 
them to the parson's charge. In the register of 
St. Nicholas' Church, Great Yarmouth, we learn 
that on December 2 x, x 8 x 8, a child was baptized 
as Susannah Drury B----, the following note 
being subsequently added: 'By mistake of the 
father baptized as a girl--rebaptized Jany 5,  8  9, 
* Cobbett's ' Memorials of Twickenham,' p. 6 9. 

Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

when the names given were Richard Drury B ' 
But it is not surprising that mistakes of this kind 
occasionally happened, for it appears a custom 
prevailed in Great Yarmouth at the end of the 
last and commencement of the present century to 
send the nurse with the infant to the parsonage, 
a day or two after its birth, sometimes on the 
very day it saw the light, to have it baptized. 
One shilling was paid, ostensibly for the trouble 
of making the entry in the register-book. This 
shilling was not unfrequently a source of tempta- 
tion to the bearer, preventing her from reaching 
the parsonage, and the infant from receiving bap- 
tism. Baptism was then, we are told, very seldom 
administered in the church, the parson requiring 
a fee of two shilling.s and sixpence for each child 
for public baptism m church on a week-day. ": 
And in ' Exactions of Parish Fees Discovered,' by 
Francis Sadler (x738, p. 54), it is recorded how 
in Battersea their late clerk had been detected 
registering boys for girls and girls for boys, and 
' not one half of the register-book, in his time, was 
correct and authentic, as it ought to be.' 
But among baptismal blunders in other parishes 
we find this strange entry in the register of burials 
belonging to Bishop Wearmouth, Durham : 
'Robert, daughter of William Thompson, hap. 
15 Feb. 173o , the midwife mistaking the sex, 
ebrietas dementat'; and an entry in the register 
of Hanwell, Middlesex, tells how 'Thomas, son 
of Thomas Messenger and Elizabeth his wife, was 
 'St. Nicholas' Church, Great Yarmouth,' Edward J, 
Lupson, pp. I3Z , I3t. 

 6 Social Life as Told b.y Parish Registers. 

The register, too, of I-Iorstead Keynes records a 
baptism in which the ceremony was performed by 
a ' Mr. Griffin, a person unknowne.' 
The disturbed state also of politics in the seven- 
teenth century gave rise to many irregularities in 
baptisms, as entries like the following from the 
register of Lowestoft show : ' During the Common- 
wealth, and the Restoration of Charles II., no 
entries were made in the Parish Register.' The 
Rev. Jacob Rous, then Vicar, writes that on 
March 24, i643 , himself, with many others, was 
carried prisoner by Colonel Cromwell to Cam- 
bridge ; so that for some time following there was 
neither minister nor clerk in this town, but the 
inhabitants were obliged to procure one another 
to baptize their children, by which means, he adds, 
there was no register kept. ' Only a few were by 
myself baptized in those intervals when I enjoyed 
nay freedom.' 
And in the register of I-Iorley for the year 
I649 there is a leaf inserted with this heading: 
' These that are regestred in this leaf were not 
regestred at the time of their birth, but were 
regestred by the directione of ther parentes by 
me Henry Shove sworne regester for horley.' 
From the year I586 up to the commencement 
of the seventeenth century there are repeated 
entries in the registers of SS. Peter and Paul, 
Mitcham, of ' nurse children,' and in one instance 
such a child is described as from ' drewes nursery '; 
and under March 25, I595, this entry is given: 
' francis Tailor a Comm6 keeper of children was 
buried,' after which date the baby-farming in 

Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

memory of it long lingered in the hearts of the 
people, and down to the eighteenth century babes 
dying in their innocence were styled chrisoms in 
the bills of mortality and m parish registers. 
Under the year I687 , this entry occurs m the 
register of Westminster Abbey: ' The Princess 
Ann's Child, a Chrisome bur. 22 Oct.,' a practice 
reminding us of Keble's beautiful words in his 
'Lyra Innocentium ' : 
' Radiant may be her glance of mirth, 
Who wears her chrisom vest, 
Pure, as when first at her new birth 
It wrapt her tender breast.' 
And it may be remembered that in 'Henry V.,' 
when the death of Falstaff is announced, Mrs. 
Quickly replies: 
'Nay, sure, he's not in hell: he's in Arthur's 
bosom, if ever man went to Arthur's bosom. A' 
made a finer end and went away an it had been 
any christom child.' 
Bishop Taylor, too, in his 'Holy Living,' 
makes use of the word in the following beautiful 
passage: 'This day is mine and yours, but ye 
know not what shall be on the morrow ; and every 
morning creeps out of a dark cloud, leaving 
behind it an Ignorance and silence, deep as mid- 
night, and undiscerned as are the phantasms that 
make a chrisome child to smile. ' In the register 
of Richmond, Surrey, as in most others, there 
are several entries of chrisom children. Under 
August 24, i69_6, the burial of 'a Chrisom Child 
 A full account of' Chrisom Child,' by Thomas George 
Norris, will be found in the Exeter Diocesan Society Publica- 
tions, 1847. 

Birth and Baptism. 119 

of Reynald Ashen '* is recorded; and under 
December 7, I636, that of 'a Crisome of Mr. 
Best, of Kew.' Under March I2, I65O, this 
entry is given: ' A Chrisome of Sir Harbar 
Lunsons buried.' Among further instances of this 
custom, we read in Limpsfield register, under 
May 29, 629, that 'a Chrysome of Mr. Thomas 
Greshame' was buried. And the register of 
Bletchingley, under the year 596, states that 
'two Chrisomars of Roger Combers, Win. and 
Solomon, was buried the xxv of September.' 
In the register of Maresfield, Sussex, a very 
interesting entry occurs connected with the mode 
of baptizing children: 'I644. Baptized Ursula 
Morgan, the first child baptized after the new 
fashion.'-]- The old custom of baptism was by 
immersion, but aspersion, or sprinkling, was 
allowed if the child happened to be weak, and the 
practice of administering the Sacrament of Bap- 
tism m this way 'was gradually introduced by 
our divines, when they returned from the Con- 
tinent in Queen Elizabeth's reign. During the 
latter part of her reign and those of James I. 
and Charles I. very few children were dipped 
at the font. After the Restoration the old 
practice was again gradually introduced, which is 
probably that alluded to above.' In the parish 
reg!ster of Hillingdon, Middlesex, there is this 
curious entry : 'Baptized, Elizabeth, the daughter 
" See 'Surrey Archaeological Collections,' vol. ii., pp. 
85-88 , and 'London and Middlesex Archaeological Society,' 
vol. ii., p. zII. 
- ' Sussex Archaeological Collections,' vol. iv., p. 

I zz Social Life as 7bld by Parish Registers. 

'I539. Samuell, son of Sir ,rilliam Smithe 
Clarke, Vicare of Duddly, was born on Friday 
morninge, at 4 of the Clock, being the xxviij day 
of February, the signe of that day was the middle 
of aquaris ,q ; the signe of the monthe -R-- ; the 
plenet of that day ? ; plenet of the same ower  
and the morow day whose name hath continued in 
Duddly from the Conqueste.' 
Occasionally the parson has embellished his 
register with poetical effusions, and in the early 
part of the register of Ockley, Surrey--which 
dates from 1539--the Vicar, William Margesson, 
has transcribed the following old lines, which it as 
suggested, probably are not original, except in the 
spelling : 
' The new born infant in the cradle lies, and vhen it sleeps 
not, fills 
Our ears with cries. Being grovn big with foolish spoorts 
(sic) and play, 
The first ten years of life are thrown avay; yet he Injoyes 
Till those ten years are over, That Innocence (sic) vhich 
he must boast no more. 
Poor man xhen Three Score Winters he has told now 
places all his hops (sic) in 
Bags of Gold.' 
And in the register of St. Mary Magdalene, 
Canterbury, will be found, under the years 1763 . 
1764, and 1772 , mention of three children who 
were' born in the fore part of the house.' The 
families referred to lived most likely on the 
northern side of Burgate Street. The houses, it is 
said, stand on the boundary dividing the parish of 
St. Mary Magdalene, on the south, from the rifle 
of Christ Church--the precincts of the cathedral 

Birtlz and Baptism. 

--on the north. A child born ' in the fore part' 
of the house would be born within the city 
liberties, and would become a ' freeman'; but it 
born in the back part of the house, or over the 
border, it would not be ' free.' Hence the im- 
portance of distinguishing in which part of the 
house a child was born.  
Cases of petty tyranny have occasionally met 
with deserved rebuke by being made public for 
all time. A memorandum, for instance, in the 
Wimbledon register, bearing the date of 723, is 
as follows: 
'Susannah, daughter of Moses and Mary 
Cooper, Travellers, born in Martin [Merton], 
and the poor woman being desirous to have 
it baptized, though she had lain in but a week, 
carried it in her own arms to Martin Church, to 
tender it to me to Baptize it there on Sunday last, 
being June ye 3Oth. But Justice Meriton being 
informed by the Constable of her being in the 
Porch with that intention, went out of his seat in 
time of service to her, and took hold of her, and 
led her to the Court of his house, being over 
against the Church, and shut the gate upon her 
and her husband, and let them not out till sermon 
and service were over and I was gone home, and 
made the man's mittimus to send him to the house 
of correction if he would not cary his wife and 
child out of the parish without being Baptized, 
and consequently registered there, which being 
forced to comply with, she brought up her child 
 'Registers of St. Mary Magdalene, Canterbury,' J. M. 
Cmvper. Introduction, ix. 

Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

to me, to nay house on this day, being Tuesday, 
July 91,, complaining of her hard usage, and 
passionately desiring me to Baptize it, which I 
did by the name above in the presence of her 
husband, nay wife, and D r Elir Pitchford. I723 . 



S an evidence of the altered state of things 
after the Reformation, may be quoted the 
following extract from the register of Croydon: 
'I55I , Oct. 25. Reverend patr Jhos lpus 
Wynton duxit Marii- Hammond generosa in ista 
Ecclesia Coram multitudine pchianos psente 
Revendissimo pre Thoma Cantuar Archiepo cu 
multis.' This is a singular entry, for, as it has 
been observed, ' the marriage of a bishop who had 
himself, in 1549, written a defence of the marriage 
of priests,' and the presence, too, of Cranmer, now 
twice married, and the words ' cum multitudine' 
and ' cure multis,' are no insignificant signs of the 
times. Only some twenty years previously poor 
Skelton, Poet Laureate, and Rector of Diss, was 
found guilty of keeping a concubine, then a far 
less crime for a parson than marriage. On his 
death-bed the poet declared that he had kept her 
as his mistress because he could not marry her, 
and they had as religiously kept the marriage as 

I-6 Social Life as 7bld by Parish Registers. 

though they had been joined man and wife by the 
It is further added that 'nearly all the clergy 
were open to the same charge. But the time was 
at hand when men were to be freed from that 
forced asceticism which is ever the parent of 
debauchery.' The clergy, it seems, were very 
careful in duly entering the ceremony, lest the 
validity might at any time be questioned, as the 
subjoined entry in the register of Staplehurst, Kent, 
shows : 
' I549. The ninth day of June, being Whit- 
sunday (wherein the booke of the Common Prayer 
and Administration of the Sacraments, and other 
Ceremonies and rites of the Churche, after the use 
of the Church of England, began to be executed), 
there was baptized Marie, the daughter of Richarde, 
parsone of this parish churche, born the last 
Thursday, of his lawful wife Jane, who were 
married the yeare before, and in the first day that 
the holy Communion, in the English tongue (after 
the order that now is), was then ministered ; they 
both with others, most humblie and devoutlie 
communicating the same. The parsone christened 
his own childe.' The words ' lawful wife' have a 
significant meaning, for 'in those days men's 
opinions were much divided as to the lawfulness 
of a priest's marrying, and the power to do so was 
reluctantly given by the legislature; and those 
priests who married took special care to declare 
their right to do so. '-: 
During Cromwell's Protectorate, the Little 
 ' Sussex Archamlogical Collections,' vol. iv., pp. z46 , z47. 

Parliament of the year  653 declared that marriage 
was to be merely a civil contract. Accordingly, it 
was enacted that the names of parties intending to 
be married were to be proclaimed either ira church 
after morning service on three successive Sundays, 
or in the market-place on three successive market- 
days, according to the wish of the parties. The pro- 
clamation was usually made in the market-place 
by the bellman, and as an example of the operation 
of this new marriage law, it may be mentioned 
that the parish registers of Boston, Lincolnshire, 
show that during the years 656 , x657 and t658, 
.respectively, the numbers of marriages proclaimed 
m the market-place were oz, c) 4 and xc)8, and 
of those announced in church, 48, 3  and 52. 
Cerne register contains entries of the banns 
proclaimed in the open market-place. One of 
them certifies that a couple, after the banns had been 
three times published in the market-place, and there 
being no opposition, were, with the consent of 
their parents, married at Alton Pancras on May 7, 
665. This was signed by a justice of the peace. 
In the register of Acton this entry occurs: 
'Thursday the 5 th of Aprill, 655. Richard 
Meredith Esquire eldest son of S r William Meredith 
of Leedes m the County of Kent Baronet was 
marryed unto M  Susanna Skippen youngest 
daughter to right honourable Major General 
Skippen [Traytor] by S t John Thoroughgood 
[knave] in the publick congregation within the 
Parish Church in Acton in the County of Middle- 
sex Mr Philip Nye at the same time praying and 
Teaching upon that occasion.' 

I28 SOCial Lik as Told, y Paris]2 Registers. 

The words' Traytor ' and ' knave '--here placed 
in brackets--were inserted by Dr. Bruno Ryves, 
who came in as Rector after the Commonwealth. 
But there are in the register of Maidstone, 
Kent, memoranda of two exceptions to marriages, 
one of which is as follows: 
' Abraham Hawkes, of East Farleigh, servant to 
Thomas Scultup of the same Free Mason, and 
Mary Emoett of Boughton Monchalsey, was 
published in the market-place in Maidstone upon 
May 4 th, the j Ith, and the I8 th 1654. See an 
exception page y 8th. ' 
'Page 8. Lambard Godfrey Esq ' doth make 
exception to the proceedinge of the marriage of 
Abraham Hawkes and Mary Emyott, for that the 
said Mary Emyott doth seem to be not of com- 
petent understanding to dispose of herself in 
' The exception made by Lbert Godfrey Esq TM 
against the proceeding to marriage of Abraham 
Hawkes and Mary Emeot above said being heard 
before Lambert Godfrey aforesaid, George Duke 
Richard Beale Esq rs and Justices of the Peace of 
this County, is satisfied and discharged, and the 
marriage of the said Abraham Hawkes and Mary 
Emeot afores a was solenmized before the Justices 
aforesaid the sixth day of July, 1654.' 
But we must not omit to quote a curious and 
amusing case of breach of promise noted in the 
register of Malmesbury, Wiltshire, in which the 
banns were forbidden, although, it seems, the 
parties were married afterwards. The memo- 
randum gives the facts thus : 

130 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

' The weeke following M r George Joyce and 
Will Shute, both Justices of the Peace, mett at the 
White Lion in Malmesbury, and desyring to make 
an end of the differences, sent for the parties, viz. 
William Waite and Alice Webbe, and heard the 
whole business debated, Mr Edmond Waite, John 
Goldney, Richard and Robert Webbe being then 
present, but noe end could be made. I asked the 
Justices whether the exception put in by Alice 
Webbe was sufficient to hinder Will Waites pro- 
ceedings or noe, they answered, it was not sufficient, 
for that the said Alice had not inserted any cause 
in p'ticular in that deniel of hers; whereupon I 
proceeded to publish the said Will. and Mary, the 
last time being June 27 t657 , at wh time of 
publication, Richard Webbe of Malmsbury, brother 
to the said Alice, in the behalfe of his said 
sister, delivered mee a note to be read at the same 
place forbidding the said publication; this was 
done in the p'sence of Richard Goffe, Thomas 
Waters, Tho Baker, Robert Fry and many others. 
A true coppie of the note here followeth : 
'" M R ROBERT HaRpy.R, I Alce Webb of 
Malmesbury, in the count of Wiltes, doe forbid 
the publicat  of marridge between Will. Waite and 
Mary Hobbes, by reason that Will Waight is my 
lawful husband by pr'mise. Witness my hand the 
6 June, 657. 
'" The Mark X of ALcv. Wv.B." 
'Hereupon Will Waite, by the advice of Simon 
Gawen, summoned Alice Webb to appear at the 
uarter Sessions, held at Warminster, but shee 

Life as ToM by Parish Registers. 

whom it may concerne that, according to the late 
Act of Parliament, entuytled an Act touching 
marriages, and the registering thereof etc. Publi- 
cation was made in the publique meeting-place, in 
the Parish Church of the Parish of Martins in the 
Fields in the County of Middlesex, upon three 
several Lord's Days, at the Close of the morning 
exercise, namely, upon the xxv day of October 
MDCLVII, as also upon the i and viii day of 
November following, of a marriage agreed upon 
between the Honb le Robert Rich of Andrew's 
Holborne, and the Right Honorable the Lady 
Frances Cromwell, of Martins in the Fields in the 
County of Middlesex. All which was fully per- 
formed according to the Act, without exception.' 
And a further entry adds that they were 
' Married xi. November, MDCLVII, in the pre- 
sence of his highness the Lord Protector, the Right 
Honb le the Earls of Warwick and Newport-- 
Robert Rich and Mountjoy Blount--the Lord 
Strickland, and many others.' 
This form of marriage ceremony is further 
exemplified in Elvetham register, Hants, where this 
record is given: 
' I654 , I, A. B. do here in the presence of God, 
the searcher of all hearts, take thee C. D. for my 
wedded wife, and doe, also, in the presence of 
God, promise unto thee to be a loving and a faith- 
ful husband. Thomas Patrick of Hartley Witney, 
and Lucie Watts of Elvetham, were married before 
Robert Reynolds Esq TM in the presence of Ambrose 
Iver and Thomas Townsend. March I6 th, I654 , 
Robert Reynolds, Justice of the Peace.' 

Marriage.  3 5 

ceremony being regarded invalid ; and, by a kind 
of compromise, it became customary for marriages 
to be solemnized before the Mayor and minister of 
the parish conjointly. Some idea of what the 
clergy felt at this violation of the Church's sacred 
rite may be gathered from an entry made by the 
parson in Elwick register, Durham : ' Maryinge 
by justices, election of registers by parishioners, 
and the use of ruling elders, first came into fashion 
in the time of the Rebellion under that monster of 
nature and bludy tyrant, Oliver Cromwell.' And 
a further strange abuse is mentioned by Burn, who 
says that 'the marriages in the Parish of Dale 
Abbey were, till a few years previous to the 
Marriage Act, solemnized by the Clerk of the 
parish, at one shilling each, there being no 
Turning from the civil to the clerical side of 
the marrmge ceremony, it would appear that in 
olden times the discipline of the Church was 
somewhat severe, marriages having been prohibited 
during Advent, Lent, and Whitsuntide, as the 
following lines--of which there are more than one 
version--in the register of Everton, Notts, show : 
'Advent marriages doth deny, 
But Hilary gives the liberty ; 
Septuagesima says thee nay, 
Eight days from Easter says you may ; 
Rogation bids thee to contain, 
But Trinity sets thee free again.' 
And in a register belonging to Cottenham, this 
direction is given as to when matrimony should be 
solemnized : 

Social Life as 7bM by Parish Registers. 

' Conjugiu Adventus phibet, Hilariq relaxat ; 
Septuagena vetat, sed pasche octava remitter, 
Rogamen vetitat, concedit Trina potestas.' 
Many of the old almanacks give directions for 
marrying, and in one published for the year 1642 
are these restrictions: 

' Times prohibiting marriage this yeer. 
' From the 2 7 of November till January  3. 
' From Februarie 6 untill April 18. 
'From May 16 until June 5-' 
And in the Twickenham register it is recorded, 
under the year 165, that 'Christopher Mitchell 
and Anne Colcott [were] married June 4, by per- 
mission of Sir Richard Chaworth, it being within 
the octaves of Pentecost.' 
A most important preliminary of marriage in 
bygone times was the betrothal or nuptial con- 
tract, termed 'sponsalia,' which generally took 
place before a priest, and was always confirmed by 
gifts, several allusions to which have been given 
by Shakespeare. In 'Twelfth Night' (Act IV., 
Scene 3)we have a minute description of such a 
ceremonial, for when Olivia is hastily espoused to 
Sebastian, she says: 
' Now go with me, and with this holy man, 
Into the chantry by: there, before him, 
And underneath that consecrated roof, 
Plight me the full assurance of your faith.' 
Although it has not been usual 'to keep a 
register of espousals contracted in facie ecclesi,e, 
one entry of them has been discovered in the 

I 3 8 Social Life as ToM by Parish Registers. 

band. Therefore I do now vowe and promise, in 
the sight, of God and this Companie, to take 
thee agame as mine owne, and will not onelie 
forgive thee, but also dwell with thee, and do 
all other duties unto thee as I promised at our 
' The Woman's Speech : " Ralphe, nay beloved 
husband, I am right sorie that I have in thy 
absence taken another man to be nay husband; 
but here, before God and this Companie, I do 
renounce and forsake him, and do promise to kepe 
nay sealfe onelie unto thee duringe life, and to 
perform all duties which I first promised unto thee 
m our marriage." 
' The Prayer : " Almightie God, we beseech 
Thee to pardon our offences, and give us grace 
ever hereafter to live together in Thy feare, and 
to perform the holie duties of manage one to 
another, accordinge as we are taught in thy holie 
word, for thy deare Son's sake, Jesus. Amen." 
'I Aug. i6o 4. Ralphe Goodchilde of the 
parish of Barkinge in Thames Street, and Eliza- 
beth his wife, were agreed to live together, and 
thereupon gave their hands one to another, making 
either of them a solemn vowe so to do, etc.' 
According to Hilton register, Dorsetshire, celi- 
bacy was apparently punished in the last century, 
for under the year i739 this entry is gwen: 
' Ordered that all young unmarried persons above 
seventeen years of age do forthwith go to service, 
or be proceeded against according to law.' And 
Hawstead register tells how a certain William 
Caustone, on account of his marriage, ' is liable to 

Marriage. 1 4 1 

hearte, and holdinge up his handes toward heaven. 
And to show his continuance to dwell with her till 
his lyres etude, he did it by closing his eyes, and 
digging out of earth with his foote, and pulling 
as though he would ri,g a bell.' 
And another memorandum in the register of 
St. Botolph, Aldgate, tells us how' Thomas Speller, 
a dumb person, by trade a Smith, of Hatfield 
Broadoake, in the county of Essex, and Sarah 
Earle, daughter to one John Earle, of Great 
Paringdon, in the same county, yeoman, were 
married by licence, granted by Dr. Edwards, 
Chancellor of the Diocese of London, the seventh 
day of November, Anno Dni I618, which licence 
aforesaid was granted at the request of Sir Francis 
Barrington, Knight, and others of the place above- 
named, who by their letters certified Mr. Chan- 
cellor that the parents of either of them had given 
their consents to the said marriage, and the said 
Thomas Speller the dumb parties willingness to 
have the same performed, appeared, by taking the 
Book of Common Prayer and his licence in one 
hand and his bride in the other, and coming to 
Mr. John Briggs, our minister and preacher, and 
made the best signs he could to show that he was 
willing to be married, which was then performed 
accordinglie. And also the said Lord Chief 
Justice of the King's Bench, as Mr. Briggs was 
informed, was made acquainted with the said 
marriage before it was solemnized, and allowed to 
be lawful. This marriage is set down at large, 
because we never had the like before.' 
Again, not the least curious feature of the 

Marriage.  4  

Vicar from the year x654 to x659. Thus, an 
entry under November 29, x659 , records the 
marriage of a Mr. Roland Ingrain, of St. Martin's, 
Ludgate, and Mrs. Ann Gorst, of Tottenham, 
' their intention of marriage having been first 
published in the said Parish Church on 3 Lord's 
days, no exception being made against the said 
marriage on any of the said times of publishing.' 
From the Serbergham registers, it would seem 
that the consent of parents was required, even 
when the bride was over twenty-one, in cases of 
marriage by licence. To quote an instance of 
this custom, we read that : 
'John Hodgson, of the Parish of St. Mary's in 
the City of Carlisle, Surgeon, aged 32 , and Esther 
Simpson, of this Parish, Spinster, aged 2 t, were 
married in this Church by License, with consent 
of John Simpson, Esquire, Father of the said 
Esther, this twelfth Day of December, in the year 
Under x 787 this curious entry occurs : 
' Thomas Furnace, of this Parish, aged --, and 
Margaret Wood, of this Parish, likewise aged --, 
were married in this Church by license (with con- 
sent of Mary McKie, her mother, formerly married 
to Daniel Wood deceased) in this Church by  
License could not be procured for this couple, as 
the girl was a minor, and the Lord High Chan- 
cellor her guardian.' 
The above was inserted too prematurely; for 
although the ' Lord High Chancellor' may well 
have objected, the marriage took place .: 
'I787 . Thomas Furnace, of this Parish, 

Marrfage.  4 5 

plentifully poured upon them. The new-married 
couple, to consummate their marriage, were at 
length put to bed, to the side of which that well- 
polished and civilised company were admitted; the 
stocking was thrown, the posset drank, and the 
whole concluded with all the decorum, decency 
and order imaginable.' 
It seems that the bride did not live many days 
after her marriage, for the subjoined parag-aph is 
dated for the same month--January, 1753 : 
' We are informed that last Sunday died at 
Sheldon, near Bakewell, the old gentlewoman who 
was married the 6th instant to a young lad, aged 
about fourteen. Her corpse was brought to Bake- 
well Church on Tuesday last, where she was hand- 
somely interred, and a funeral sermon preached on 
the occasion to a numerous and crowded audience 
by the rev. gentleman who had so lately performed 
the nuptial ceremony.' 
But sometimes it would seem that the aspirants 
to matrimony not only disregarded the law, but 
caused the parson to do the same, as the following 
entry from one of the Glaisdale registers shows: 
' David Morley and Mary Fenwick m a October 
8, I753 . June 7, 754: then received of the 
Rev. M r Robinson, Curate of Glaisdale, the sum 
of ten shillings as an acknowledgment for his 
having infringed upon the Parish Church of 
Danby, marrying the said David Morley, though 
by a surrogate's license, in the said Chapel of 
Glaisdale, without leave or a Certificate first 
obtained from the Curate of the Parish of Danby 
aforesaid. I say, received by me--James Deason, 



PART from its importance as recording the 
deaths ' of all sorts and conditions' of men, 
the parish register illustrates in a unique manner 
the historical lore associated with man's exit from 
the world. Little incidents, too, and fragments of 
gossip relating to the burial usages of the past are 
here briefly chronicled, oftentimes throwing light 
on the domestic life of the past. 
Thus, amongst some of the many curious scenes 
witnessed at funerals, ,are are told in the register 
of Christchurch, Hants, how a certain Christina 
Steevens was 'buried by women' on April 4, 
6o4,' for she was a papishe'; and at Bishop 
Middleham, Durham, 'a Scotsman and soldier, 
dying at Cornforth, the soldiers themselves buried 
him without any minister, or any prayers over 
him, on the 4 th November, I644.' Entries of this 
kind are by no means infrequent, and those 
relating to the interment of excommunicated 
persons are equally strange. In an appendix, for 

Death and the Grae. t 5  

the jury " Non compos mentis."' Shakespeare 
speaks of this law in the case of poor Ophelia- 

' Laertes. What ceremony else ? 
Priest. Her obsequies have been as far enlarged 
As we have warranty: her death was doubtful ; 
And, that but great command o'ersways the order, 
She should in ground unsanctified have lodged 
Till the last trumpet ; for charitable prayers, 
Shards, flints, and pebbles, should be thrown on her, 
Yet here she is allowed her virgin crants, 
Her maiden strewnments, and the bringing home 
Of bell and burial. 
Laertes. Must there no more be done ? 
Priest. No more be done ! 
We should profane the service of the dead, 
To sing a requiem, and such rest to her, 
As to peace parted souls.' 

In the register of Blatchington it is recorded 
that in the year 653 'Sarah Reynolds, servant, 
came to an untimely end, as it was thought, May 
the I t at night, for from that time she was not 
seen living, and she was then found in a pond at 
the lower end of the parish; she was laid in the 
ground the 5 th June.' And a similar case happened 
at Newhaven, when a mother, whose child had 
died and was buried, drowned herself two days 
afterwards in the harbour, and was refused Christian 
But the register of Wadhurst informs us that 
occasionally the rites of burial were forfeited on 
account of the person dying of some infectious 
disease, as happened on November I, I674, when 
a woman named Damaris, the wife of Robert 
Gower, was buried, ' Sine exequiis non ob malum 

Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

morale sed ob infectionem morbillorum '--a good 
In the reign of Elizabeth it was customary to 
bury merely in a winding.sheet, without any coffin. 
The register of Poynings, Sussex, tells us how on 
'the eighteenth day of April, 6o8, was buried 
John Skerry, a poore man, that died in the 
place stable, and being brought half naked with 
his face bare, the parson would not bury him so, 
but first he gave a sheete, and caused him to be 
sacked therein, and they buried him more Christian- 
like, being much grieved to see him brought so 
unto the grave ; and at this time did one Thatcher 
dwell at the place.' The parson's indignation was 
probably roused not because the body was brought 
in a winding-sheet, but on account of the insuffi- 
ciency of it. 
In the re.giste.r of Great and Little Abingdon 
this entry s gwen, a curious combination of 
business and sentiment : 
' Burial without a coffin, s; for a grave in the 
church, 6 S 8'; in the chancel, 3  4 *. But the 
most honourable Grave of any man whatsoever is 
in the Churchyard, because that shows most honour 
to God's house. The great first Christian Emperor 
Constantine, and many of his successors, were 
buried in the Churchyard.' 
On the other hand, the register of St. Michael's, 
Lichfield, in 63z states, as something worthy of 
note, ' that Andrew, the sonne of William Burnes, 
was buried with a coffin.' 
Then there were the so-called ' solemn burials,' 
" ' Sussex Archaeological Collections,' vol. iv., p. 277. 

Death and the Grave. 15 3 

which seem to have been attended with much 
pomp and ceremony, and oftentimes the prepara- 
tions were so extensive that the funeral had to be 
postponed for several weeks after the interment. 
In the parish of Iselham, Cambridge, under the 
year S9 o, this entry occurs: 'Mr. Robert 
Peyton, Esquier, died 19 Oct., and was solemnly 
buried i2 Nov. next morning." Such ' solemn 
burials' no doubt consisted of the funeral sermon, 
with a display of the hearse, adorned with armorial 
ensigns, etc. ; at the same time the wine, wafers, 
gloves, and rosemary were probably distributed. 
A memorandum in the register of Stock Har- 
ward, Essex, under  642 , runs thus : 
' That vertuous : religious : humble : and trulie 
Charitable Gentlewoman, M rs Juliet Coo, the wife 
of William Coo Esquire, departed this mortal life 
in the Cittie of London on Wednesday May I8. 
And was from thence conveyed in a coach to this 
towne where she dwelt; and was there solemnly 
interred (as beseemed her ranke), in the Chancell 
belonging to this Parish Church on Friday 
May 2% where her worth and eminent vertues 
(to her eternall memory) were both elegantlie and 
trulie related in a learned-funerall-sermon, by that 
Reverend man of God Mr. William Pindar, rector 
And, to quote another case, the register of St. 
Bartholomew, Broad Street, records under I58 
the burial of Mr. Francis Bowyer, Alderman, in 
St. Michael's Church ; but, it adds, the ' solemnities 
of his funeral were ministered in this, the 7 th of 

 54 Social Life as ToM by Parish Registers. 

And a memorandum in the register of Cople, 
Bedfordshire, tells how Nicholas Luke, who died 
on July 4, I63, 'att Rouney, was buried the 5 tb 
July m the north Chauncell of Cople, whose 
funerall was kepte w th great solemnitie the 4 tb 
day of August ensueinge.' 
When a person of distinction died, the funeral 
service was frequently performed--with an effigy 
of the deceased--in the various churches with 
which he had been connected, and such a funeral 
was entered in the parish register; and when 
persons of rank died in one parish and were buried 
in another, it was the usual custom to record the 
burial in the registers of both parishes. 
Again., the following interesting entry in Hilling- 
don registers throws some light on the burial 
usages of the past : 
'Anno. x663. July. 6. This day the Hearse of 
the late Archbishop of Canterbury, some time 
Lord High Tresurer of England, going to Oxford, 
where he was to be interred, had Buriall here 
offered by mee, meeting it at the Church gate 
with the service book, a surplice and hood, 
attended with the Clark, and the great bell 
solemnly tolling all the while, according to the 
ancient and laudable custom in like cases.' 
As it has been observed,  'we might suppose 
that the vicar intended to pay special reverence to 
the body of the Archbishop--better known as 
Bishop--Juxon, the loyal and devout prelate who 
performed the last religious offices for Charles I. 
on the scaffold. But the words used, " according 
" The .4ntifuary, vol. xviii., pp. 64, 65. 

Social Life as 7bld by Parish Registers. 

thus referred to: ' And one man child brought up 
in the town which no man could show who ought 
him buried.' 
The law of Edward VI. for enforcing the removal 
of the aged poor to the place of their birth, or last 
residence--an act which was sometimes attended 
with fatal results--is noticed in the register of 
Staplehurst : 
'I578 , There was comytted to the earth the 
body of one Johan Longley, who died in the 
highway as she was carried on horseback to have 
been conveyed from officer to officer, till she should 
have corn to the parish Rayershe.' 
Then there was the mortuary fee, an arbitrary 
exaction forbidden by 2I Henry VIII., and which 
was actually at times levied on those who at death 
had no property in goods or chattels. But although 
the levying of these mortuaries or corse presents 
' from travelling or wayfaring men in the places 
where they fortuned to die' was expressly for- 
bidden by statute, the law seems oftentimes to 
have been disregarded. Thus, the Rector of Ripe, 
Sussex, tells us how on February 22, i634 , he 
buried one Alice Whitesides, 'who, being but one 
xveeke in the parishe of Ripe, died as a stranger, 
for whose mortuary, I, John Goffe, had a gown of 
Elizabeth her daughter, price t os. ' 
On another occasion the same parson has made 
this entry : 
' qlliam Wade, who died as a stranger, for 
whose mortuary, I, John Goffe, Parson of Rype, 
had his upper garment, which was an old coate, 
and I receaved for the same 6s. ' 

Social Lik as ToM by Parish Registers. 

the Church of England, these directions were sent 
under Doctor Burwell's own hand, Aug. zS, z663, 
when S r Thomas Tanckird was to bee buried.' 
During the reign of Charles II. a singular Act 
was passed, which has left a conspicuous mark on 
parish records. The object of this Act was to 
'lessen the importation of linen from beyond the 
seas, and to encourage the woollen manufacture of 
this kingdom'; and on this account it provided 
that the dead should be buried in woollen only. 
Compliance with its requirements was often noted 
in the registers;and a prejudice still existing 
among the lower classes in favour of shrouds made 
of flannel is no doubt an outgrowth from the now 
obsolete compulsory usage of two hundred years 
ago.* But the higher classes disliked the ,act, 
and tried as much as possible to evade the law, a 
fact which is notified m many of the parish 
registers. Pope, it may be remembered, wrote of 
Mrs. Oldfield, who was buried in Westminster 
Abbey in a Brussels lace headdress, a holland shift 
with tucker, and double ruffles of the same lace, 
and a pair of new kid gloves, these lines : 
' " Odious ! in voollen ! 'twould a saint provoke !" 
(Were the last words that poor Narcissa spoke) ; 
" No, let a charrning chintz and Brussels lace 
Wrap my cold limbs, and shade my lifeless face."' 
In the register of St. Mary le Bow, Durham, it 
is entered that ' Christopher Bell, Gent., was lapped 
in linen, contrary to the late Act, Dec., t678 '; 
and numerous entries to the same effect occur 
 See Cornhill Magazine, ' The Story of the Registers,' 
,879, vol. xl., p. 3zo. 

Death and the Grave. 15 9 

elsewhere. At Harmondsworth, in 726, it is 
noted that six guineas and fifty shillings were given 
to the poor for a burial in linen ; and at Hayes that 
an informer--who would have half the fine--gave 
sworn information of one who had been buried in 
a coffin with velvet; of another, that she left in 
her will that she should be buried in linen, and 
had her desire. And in the register of Aldborough, 
Yorkshire, under i716, is this entry : ' The In- 
formation of Margaret Robinson, made on Oath 
before M r Thomas Wilkinson, her grandchild, 
that she the said M TM Eliz: Wilkinson was 
buryed in Linning on the fifth day of Feb: x7x7, 
contrary to the Act of Parliament for bureying in 
On the other hand, there are frequently found 
in parish registers' lists of the affidavits brought, 
in pursuance of the Act, to the clergyman on the 
burial of individuals of their being shrouded in 
linen; and these often afford information not to 
be met with in the registers themselves.'* A 
specimen of one of these affidavits we quote below : 
'Dec. 2o, 768, recd this affidavit. Com. 
Lanc. Manchester, Dec. 2o,  7 I8, which day Ann 
wife of Sam  Hampson of Stretford, in the parish 
of Manchester, Thatcher made oath yt the body 
of Sarah wife of Tho. Tipping, of the township 
and parish aforesaid, Husbandman, lately deceased 
(December I4), was interr'd according to the Act 
of Parliament for burying in wollen.'J- 
And the following form of oath taken on such 
 Burn, ' History of Parish Registers,' p. z 9. 
f Reliquary, vol. lxxiii., p. 93. 

Social Lfe as Told by Parish Registers. 

an occasion is duly registered in the church books 
of Frant : 
'John Beale, of the parish of Frant, labourer, 
maketh oath that the corps of a child of his, lately 
deceased, was not putt in, wrapt, or wound up, or 
buried, in any shirt, shift, sheet, or shroud, made 
or mingled with flax, hemp, silk, or hair, gold, or 
silver, or other than what is made of sheep's wool, 
nor in any coffin lined or cased with any cloth, 
stuff, or any other thing whatsoever made or 
mingled with flax, hemp, silk, hair, gold or silver, 
or any other material but sheep's wool only. 
The custom of taking out the heart of the 
deceased and burying it apart from the body has 
prevailed even up to recent times. Oftentimes, 
too, when it was desired to remove the body to a 
great distance for burial, it was considered neces- 
sary to deprive it of its internals, which were 
generally buried where the person happened to die. 
In the register of Norton, Durham, this memo- 
randum is given under March 22, 756: 'Bur: 
the heart and bowells of the right honorable James 
Earl of Wemyss. The remains were buried with 
his ancestors at Wemys Castle, in Scotland, the 
8 th day of April.' An entry in the register of 
St. Mary's, Reading, under t63 , records the death 
of Sir Edward Clarke, Knight, Steward of Reading, 
and adds, 'his bowells interred in St. Marie's, 
his body carried to Dorchester, in Oxfordshire, 
Jan.  t.' It is said that Henry Spencer, Earl of" 
Sunderland, who received his death wound at the 
fatal Battle of Newbury, ' was buried in the Church 

Death and the Grave.  6 t 

at Brington, which is the parish of Althorp, the 
family seat. This, however, does not appear to be 
at all certain, as there is no entry in the register 
.recording the fact; but a leaden drum deposited 
m a vault in the church is supposed to contain his 
heart. This case has no inscription, or even date, 
upon it. 'e The register of Denham informs us 
that the heart of Sir Robert Peckham, Knight, 
was ' buried in the vault under the chappell.' 
In pursuance of the same fashion, it is recorded 
in the Richmond register, Surrey, under November 
I2, I599, that ' M r8 Elizabeth Ratcliff one of the 
maids of honor died, and her bowells buried in 
the Chancell at Richmond.' In the register, again, 
of St. Bridget, Farringdon Without, under 
April 20, 16o8, it is recorded that ' the bowells of 
the right hon. lord treasurer, Thomas Sackville, 
Earl of Dorset were interred.' Another entry in 
the register of St. Dunstan's-in-the-West states 
that on December 8, 65I, 'the bowells of the 
Right Hon. Elizabeth Countess of Kent was buried 
at the upper end of the Chancel, who died ye 7 h 
of this month.' And under July 24 , 16oo, this 
entry occurs : ' Sir Anthony Paulet, Knight, died 
at Kew, whose bowells were interred at Rich- 
mounte.' Sir Anthony Poulet was made Governor 
of the Isle of Jersey on the death of his father, 
September 26, 1588, and was Captain of the Guard 
to (ueen Elizabeth, who conferred the honour of 
knighthood upon him. 
* 'Enshrined Hearts of Warriors and Illustrious People,' 
Emily Sophia Hartshorne, p. z9z. 
r See Surrey Archa:ological Society's Proceedings,' 1864, 
vol. ii., p. 84. 

 62 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

In many registers great care was taken to give 
the exact position of the person buried, a practice 
which gave rise to such entries being made in a 
somewhat quaint fashion. Thus, under March 25, 
172o , the Greensted register informs us that 'John 
Pool of Sayers was buryed in woollen June 13 th 
172o under the seats near the Isle on the north 
side of the Church his feet lye to the head of 
M r Glascock his father whoge feet reach within a 
foot of the Desk.' And under 1721 it is stated 
that 'Nicholas son of John Clarke Esq TM aged 
about 2I months was buryed in woollen as p. 
affidavit, Dec rye 21st i721 his corpse was set upon 
the feet of his mother's in the new vault, who dyed 
in childbed of this son as above the time buryed.' 
Likewise, oftentimes full particulars are given as 
to the kind of grave in which the person was 
interred. In the same parish, for instance, ' M r 
Thomas Wragg Clerk was buryed in woollen 
Sepr the lO h I723 at the East End of the 
Churcyard w  in 5 foot of the Pales over ag st the 
Chancell window. The grave work't up with 
Brick 3 foot high then covered with Plank and 
Earth upon it.' Notices of this kind are very 
common, and are interesting as illustrating n- 
dividual eccentricities. 
In. the registers of St. Mary-on-the-Hill, Chester, 
'it is noteworthy that in the burials the exact 
situation in the church or churchyard in which the 
interments were made is carefully set out ';e and in 
a measure this also applies to some of the burial 
* ' Notes on the Ancient Parish Books of the Church of 
St. Mary-on the-Hill,' J. P. Earwaker, I887. 

 6 4 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

have been made in the handwriting of the Rev. 
Purchas Deuchfield, who was presented to the 
living in I742 , and died in i774. It is said, too, 
that his widow was buried in a similar manner. 
Burials in gardens, however, have occurred from 
time to time, and the register of Toddington, 
Berkshire, has this entry: 'I658. Nov. I4. 
Thomas Matthew, died the  2th day of November 
and was buried the 4 th day of November 
I658 in his garden late taken out of his orchard.' 
It may be noted that the first grave of the cele-- 
brated John Wilkinson, known in his day as ' the 
great ironmaster and the Father of the Iron trade,' 
was in his own garden at Castlehead, and his last 
in the quiet little churchyard at Lendal-in-Cartmel. 
In giving an account of Dr. xVilliam Bentley, a 
celebrated physician, who died September 3, 
I68O, and was buried at Northwich, Ormerod's 
' History of Cheshire' mentions that ' the body of 
Dr. Bentley is interred in a vault at the summit of 
the garden, where his tomb was discovered in taking 
down a summer-house built over it.' 
In St. Peter's. Cornhill, under October 0_3, 1594, 
this memorandum is given: 
' William Ashboold, soune of M r William Ash- 
boold, Parson of this Church, a toward young 
child, and nay scholler, he lieth buried in the 
Chauncell under a small blewish stone, hard by 
the South dore: whose death wroong from me 
these suddain verses: 

' My sweet and little boy, my lif, nay joyful sight ; 
Thou wast thy father's earthly joy, and mother's chief 
delight ! 

Death and the Grave. 16 7 

appeared in evidence that the deceased, having 
been for some time indisposed, had received proper 
medical advice, and had at last succumbed to her 
disease. Further, that a gentleman with whom 
she had lived, being forced to leave for the Conti- 
nent, was desirous of seeing her previously interred. 
That it was at her own request the pin was inserted 
by her medical adviser after the body had been 
piaced in the coffin, to prevent the possibility of 
her being buried alive. These facts having been 
proved, the coroner's jury returned a verdict,' Died 
by the visitation of God.' 
In the register of Bowes, Yorkshire, it is recorded 
how' Rodger Wrightson, j un., and Martha Railton, 
both of Bowes,' were ' buried in one grave on t 5 th 
March, i714. He died in a fever, and upon 
.tolling his passing bell, she cryed out, " My heart 
is broke," and in a few hours expired, purely, as 
was supposed, from love, aged about twenty years 
each.' The melancholy fate of these lovers is 
immortalized in Mallet's ballad of' Edwin and 
Emma ' 

' I feel, I feel, this breaking heart 
Beat high against my side ; 
From her white arm down sunk her head, 
She shivering, sighed and died.' 

In Arlingham register, under t763, there is a 
singular entry of burial : 
'Stephen Aldridge, who was suffocated by a 
flat-fish, which he unadvisedly put betwixt his 
teeth when taken out of the net ; but by a sudden 
spring it made into his throat, and killed him in 

Death and the Grave. x 6 9 

Redivivum' (iv. 358), 'may serve as an useful 
hint to some surgical or medical reader, who may 
learn from it that their predecessors disposed of the 
remains of a fellow-creature in a decent and proper 
way.' It is as follows:' t 6 t 5- Feb. 28. was buried 
an anatomy from the College of Physicians.' And 
we may quote here an entry from Croydon parish 
register, dated June 21, I615, which is quaint: 
'Thomas Afworth, gent., wounded the xvii day 
of May, lay long languishinge under the handes of 
surgeons unto the xx day of June and then dyed, 
and was buried the xxi day, t6t 5, in the middle 
chancell in Croydon Churche.' And a further 
entry from the same register tells how 'James 
Mersh pulled ye eagle in ye church upon him, and 
curt his hand, and blead to death, about 8 yeares 
old, and [was] buried ye II. June, 729 .' 
Under May 2, I6II, the register of Saffron 
Walden tells how ' Martha Warde, a young mayd 
coming from Chelmsford on a carte, was over- 
whelmed and smothered with certayn clothes which 
were in the carte, and was buried here '; and under 
September 4, t623, ' buryed a poore man brought 
by the Little Chesterford constables to be examined 
by the justice ; the justice being a hunting, the 
poore man died betire his coming home from 
hunting.' It has been suggested that perhaps the 
squire had a longer run than usual with the hounds 
on this occasion. And under November  8, x 7 t6, 
it is recorded that ' the oulde girle from the work- 
house was buried.' 



ANY of the social usages of bygone cen- 
turies which have long ago fallen into 
disuse, and may be reckoned amongst the for- 
gotten things of the past, have been preserved in 
our parish registers. An important personage, 
who by his absurd antics and comic behaviour 
excited merriment, not only in the houses of the 
wealthy, but even at Court, was the domestic fool, 
allusions to whose wit and humour are frequently 
to be found in the literature of the period. In 
the register of St. Anne's, Blackfriars, under 
March 2I, I580 , the death is recorded of 
'William, fool to nay Lady Jerningham.' And 
another en.try in the register of Chester-le-Street, 
Durham, is to this effect: 'Ellis Thompson, 
Insipiens, Gul Lambton Militis, bu r. 26 April, 
I627.' It may be noted, however, that this 
eccentric individual had not always a very happy 
time, for, we are told, ' if he was too dull, he was 
sent away; if too witty, he was sent to the porter 

7 2 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

That fools should be so deep contemplative ; 
And I did laugh, sans intermission, 
An hour by his dial.'* 

An entry in the register of St. Giles', Cripple- 
gate, under February 9, I6O4, records the burial 
of one 'William Fox, son of William Fox, 
mynstrell.' Numbers of minstrels lived in this 
parish ; they were incorporated by King Edward IV., 
and were frequently admitted to the houses of the 
It was formerly customary also for the upper 
servants m great households to be 'persons of 
gentle blood and slender fortune,' an instance of 
which occurs in the register of Allhallows, London 
Wall : 
' x598, July 2o. M r Randall Crew, Counsellor 
at the Law in Lincoln's Inn, and M TM Julian 
Clipsbie, gentlewoman attending on my Lady of 
Shrewsbury, of this parish, were married.' 
Mr. Chester Warters, in his ' Parish Registers,' 
amongst instances of this usage quotes that of 
Catharine, wife of John Willson, who addressed 
a petition in the year x634 to Lord Cottington, 
the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in which she 
' I am the daughter of George Dyer, late of 
Grove Park, Warwickshire, who was brother to 
your Lordship's brother. After nay father's death 
I was for a while brought up by nay uncle, George 
Dyer, and by him put to service to a Mistress, 
who by a blow struck on nay nose dejected my 

"As You Like It,' Act II., Scene 7. 

Social Usages. 173 

fortunes in marriage. Ever since I have been 
enforced to take hard pains for nay living, as nay 
poor husband does for his.' 
And speaking of servants, it would seem that 
a bond of apprenticeship xvas thought worthy of 
insertion in the parish register. At Frantfield, as 
early as the year I6o4, a case was entered of a 
servant in husbandry as below : 
' I6o4, 2o July. George Job, with his mother's 
consent, put himself apprentice to Thomas Page, 
of Frantfield, for seven years following, being 
bound with seven single pence. The said Thomas 
is to teach the said George the full knowledge of 
husbandry, and to find him sufficient meat, drink, 
and cloth, linen and woollen, hose and shoes, good 
lodging, and all things needful for such an appren- 
tice, both in sickness and in health, and to double 
apparel at the end of his years, and also to give 
the said George fourpence every quarter; and to 
this end the said Thomas hath received of widow 
Job two good sheep and ten shillings in money. 
Also the said George is faithfully, honestly, and 
truly to perform the duties of such servant, in 
doing his master's business, in keeping his secrets 
lawful to be kept, in not using to ale-houses, nor 
unlawful games without his master's consent, and 
all other duties needful for such a servant, and 
not to marry without his master's consent.' 
And in the register of Elstead, Surrey, is a 
memorandum, dated I558, probably made by a 
son of one of the churchwardens for the time : 
'Be it knone that I Rycharde Grover have 
fully passed out of my yerse of prentyst wyth nay 

Social Usages. r 75 

the said John Callcock, otherwise than to be 
humble petitioners unto Almighty God for the 
health of our said dear son, and the prosperity of 
John Callcock his said master. And in witness 
of the truth unto these premises we have put our 
hands the day and year above said,' etc. 
In the register of St. Mary Magdalene, Canter- 
bury, is a fragment of an entry relating apparently 
to an agreement to pay half a crown, ' beeginning 
November the 28, and to continue to the day 
I696 '; and a further memorandum runs thus: 
' November the  8  692 : then John Wingate and 
Thomas Smith hatter agreed by the yeare that 
Thomas Smith is to find him in hatts for twenty 
shillings the yeare during life.' This bargain was 
most likely made at the alehouse, and the parish 
clerk, being present, undertook to register the 
It is noteworthy that many occupations and 
trades, some of which have long ceased to exist, 
are preserved in the parish register. Thus, in 
that of St. Oswald, Durham, this entry is given : 
'Ann, daughter of Thomas Forcer, virginall 
master, bap. Feb. I4 th, I64o.' The term ' virginal 
master' is now an obsolete term. The virginal 
was an instrument of the spinet kind, made quite 
rectangular, like a small pianoforte, probably so 
called from being used by young girls. In an old 
play the instrument is thus alluded to: ' This was 
her schoolmaster, and taught her to .play the 
virginals. ''x" And an entry m the registers of 
St. Andrew's, Newcastle, records the burial on 
 ' Honest Whore,' iii., 359. 

Social Usages.  77 

Pannyer-man of the Middle Temple.' Then we 
meet with, in the year 599, a 'dreaman,' and in 
6oo with an' ale-bruer.' An entry in the year 
6o8 speaks of a ' woodmonger,' and reference is 
made to a ' tomb-maker.' 
'The Writer of the Court Letter' was the 
designation of a scrivener prior to the grant of the 
royal charter in the year 66, an allusion to 
which occurs in the registers of St. Mary Wool- 
noth ; and amongst the many other obsolete terms 
found in this register may be mentioned ' pasteler,' 
gfa ' 
' gon truer, and ' pryntagger.' 
Another personage who was by virtue of his 
trade somewhat notorious in the seventeenth 
century was the saltpetre-man, the burial of a man 
of this description being recorded in the register of 
St. Nicholas', Durham: 'John Haward, Saltpetre- 
man, bur. 9 Sept., 6ou.' ' Before the discovery 
and importation of Indian nitre, saltpetre was 
manufactured from earth impregnated with animal 
matter, and, being the chief ingredient of gun- 
powder, was claimed in most countries as a State 
monopoly. Patents for making saltpetre were 
expressly exempted in 6u 4 from the statute 
against monopolies, and the saltpetre-man was 
empowered to break open all premises, and to dig 
up the floors of stables, and even dwelling-houses.' 
But this vexatious prerogative of the Crown was 
annulled in 656, when it xvas enacted that no 
saltpetre-man should dig within any houses or 
lands without previously obtaining the leave of the 
Then we find 'lutenists,'' f idlers,' and ' musi- 

I78 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

tians' spoken of ; and in one register the burial of 
'a singing man' is mentioned, and in the register 
of St. Mary-le-Bow, Durham, there is entered the 
burial of' Mr. Thomas Edlin, a strainger, one 
which taught to dance.' Occasionally the anti- 
quated mode of spelling is noticeable, such as ' up- 
holster,' ' pictor-maker,' and ' aquavity-man,' or 
seller of drams. In days past the term 'aqua- 
vita3' was in use as a general phrase for ardent 
spirits, and as such occurs in ' Twelfth Night' 
(Act II., Scene 5), where Maria asks,' Does it work 
upon him ?' to which Sir Toby replies, ' Like aqua- 
vita3 with a midwife.' According to Fosbroke, 
aqua-vite was made and sold by barbers and 
barber-surgeons. Ben Jonson speaks of selling 
' the dole beer to aqua-vite men,' and in Beau- 
mont and Fletcher's 'Beggar's Bush' the cry of 
the aqua-vita3 man is, 'Buy any brand wine, buy 
any brand wine.' It is such a person who is indi- 
cated in the following entry from the register of 
St. Giles's, Cripplegate, where on June 8, 67, 
the burial is recorded of' the daughter of Richard 
Michell, aquavity-man.' According to Malcolm, 
several aqua-vita3 dealers lived in this parish, and 
he adds that the nature of this beverage may be 
imagined from the following' Reasons for the 
Grauntes unto Mr. Drake, for the making of 
aquavite, aqua composita, berevinger, beereeger, 
and alliger. 
' That whereas dyversse of greedye and covetous 
myndes, for their owne lucre and gainelw'hout 
the dew regarde of the health and wellfayre of our 
subjects, or the p'fit and benefit w  may grow to 

Social Usages. x79 

us and our Comonwealth, by the trew and right 
making of the same of trew and wholsome lyquor 
--have, do use make the foresayde drynkes and 
sauces of most corrupt, noysom, and lothsom stuff; 
viz., the washing tonnes, colebacks, laggedragge, 
tylts, and droppings of tappes, and such other 
noysom stuff used in tymes past to feed swyne.' 
Mention is made in the Nantwich registers of 
a resident jockey, dancing-masters, and comedians, 
which is interesting, associated as they were with 
the gaieties and amusements of the town in former 
days ; and in the same registers early notices occur 
of the Post-Office, such entries as the following 
occurring : 
' t62. March 3. Thomas Cheshire, a letter 
bearer.' [Buried.] 
' t622. Ap. I-_. Mr. Roger Mainwaring, Post 
maister.' [Buried.] 
' x635. Feb. 9- Elizabeth, wife of Mathew 
Alvaston, foote-post.' [Buried.] 
The way in which our forefathers occasionally 
settled their local differences in days of old is 
certainly worthy of imitation nowadays. An 
entry in the Twlckenham register, dated April 3, 
568, tells us how' in the presence of the hole 
paryshe of Twycknam was agreement made betwyxt 
M r Packer and his wyffe, and Hewe Rytte and 
Sicylye Daye upon the aforesaid Mr. Packer '; and 
another entry, of April I c of the same year, 
records a similar agreement made between Thomas 
Whytt and James Herne, who 'have consented 
that whosoever geveth occasion of the breaking of 
Christian love and charyty betwixt them, to forfeit 

Social Usages. 

Wharton, knights, who were both slaine at that 
time.' But Islington seems to have been remark- 
ably fatal to the duellists of that day, for the 
following year, under April 2z, i6io, an entry 
informs us that John Egerton, son of Sir John 
Egerton, Knight, was buried. Mr. Egerton was 
killed in a duel on April 20, and is said to have 
been slain'basely by his antagonist one Edward 
Morgan who was himself sorely hurt.'* 
A singular duel is described in the register of 
Tottenham. It appears that on Thursday, being 
November 8,'there was a meeting of the neigh- 
bouts to warme M r John Syms, his house, the 
Signe of the Swanne at High Cross, among 
whom came John Nelham and John Whiston, who 
having some grudge or quarrell between them, 
dinner being done, they two did use sore private 
speches within themselves; taking leave of the 
company, went to their houses, either of them 
taking his pickstafe in their handes, mett in a field 
behinde M r Edward Barkham's house, commonly 
caull'd or knowne by the name of Baldwin's, theare 
they two fought till John Nelham receyed a wound 
by John Whiston in his throate, fell down dead, 
and never spake word after; so the coroner, upon 
the Saturdie next sate upon him; was burried the 
same dale being the IO th of November, 161o.' 
In the register of St. Mary Magdalene, Canter- 
bury, under March 8, 696, this entry occurs: 
' Then M r Fiche Rooke and a Ensigne his name 
was Antho Buckeredg they fought a duell in the 
 Nelson's 'History and Antiquities of Islington,' 823, 
PP- 334, 335. 

Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

North Homlbes and boath dyed in the ffield : 
Colonel name he be : longue to was Marques 
On this entry Mr. Joseph Meadows Cowper 
writes - ' " Anthony Buckeridge, an Ensigne," was 
buried in St. Alphage churchyard, March 9, 1696-7, 
and Finch Rooke was buried at St. Paul's. In 
neither case is any reference made to the cause of 
death; and the sole memorial that remains is a 
small stone in the wall by the North Holmes. 
This stone, much defaced, is near the eastern jamb 
of a bricked-up gateway, by which egress was 
obtainable from the orchard--now Major Plum- 
mer's--to the footpath leading from St. Martin's 
Church to St. Gregory's. The inscription on the 
stone, as I read it, is as under: 

Died I696 
'So far, I have failed to find any record or 
otherwise of the duel. I have been referred to 
"Tales of a Cabin," but the story as therein 
related is absurdly wrong and utterly valueless, 
unless we accept as traditionary the statement that 
two men fought in the night and without seconds, 
and that nothing was known until their dead 
bodies were discovered in the early morning. '* 
The following extract from a letter which 
appeared in the Standard is of interest, as referring 
"  Registers of St. Mary Magdalene, Canterbury.' Intro- 
duction, pp. iv, v. 

Social Usages. I 8 3 

to a duel, and to the disappearance of the old 
register in which it was recorded : 
' In the days of Charles I., Giles Nanfan, who 
then resided at the old manor-house of Bistmorton 
Court, in this neighbourhood, fought a duel with 
the lover of his sister Bridget, and slew him. We 
know the "Bloody Meadow" where the duel was 
.fought, and how the unfortunate lover was buried 
in the Berrow Churchyard, the parish in which he 
was killed, and Bridget Nanfan left a charge upon 
the "Bloody Meadow" by will, for the preaching 
of a sermon by after incumbents against the sin of 
duelling. But we did not know the name of the 
lover who was killed, or the time when the duel 
took place. Some years ago I went, accompanied 
by Sir William Guise, to examine the parish 
registers respecting the name and the date of the 
burial of Bridget Nanfan's lover. We found the 
entry, and I made a copy, which was lost. Years 
after . . again I went with Sir Win. Guise to 
examine the registers of the period, but the book 
had disappeared altogether, and was nowhere to be 
Much valuable matter treating of the social life 
of the sixteenth century, as far as the poor were 
concerned, is found in parish documents. Here, 
for instance, is a picture of London life taken from 
the registers of St. Dunstan's-in-the-West : 
' x573. Jan. 5- a poore man buryed out of the 
' 586. Feb. 9 a maide buried out of the fielde.' 
 1589" March 18 a poor maide that died in the 

Social Usages. x 8 5 

and under March 27, I623, it is recorded, ' the 
same daye buried a poore hunger sterven begor 
child Dorothie the daughter of Henry Patterson, 
Miller.' And another entry in the same register, 
dated March, 583, is to this effect: ' Tewsday, 
the xii day was buried one ppofer Buckbarrow 
w ch went about for god sake.' The same phrase 
occurs again in the year x6o2, applied to a ' poore 
woman'; both were, m all probability, licensed 
Pensioners, both male and female, occasionally 
occur in St. Dunstan's registers, and an almshouse 
was established in the Friars, which is mentioned 
in the entries below: 
' 593- June . Agnes Grandige, one of the 
sisters of the fryers.' 
' x6o8. July 30. Joane Dennys, vidowe, out of 
the alines house in the Friers.' 
' 6o 3. March 23. Anne Pilsworth, one of the 
7 sisters in the Fryers.' 
It may be noted that the Friars--sometimes 
designated the White Friars--was the site of the 
house of the Carmelites, placed on the south side 
of Fleet Street. As a sanctuary for debtors, and 
the consequent resort of dissolute characters, it 
subsequently became notorious, and under the 
slang name of Alsatia its fame has been widely 
spread by Sir Walter Scott's ' Fortunes of Nigel.' 
It was not, however, entirely given up to the lower 
classes ; for, as Stowe says, ' in place of this Friers 
Church, bee now many faire houses builded, 
lodgings for noblemen and others.' 
Another locality inhabited by very poor persons, 

z86 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

but not as almsfolk, was called St. Dunstan's Hall. 
Thus, on September 4, 593, one John Miller 
was buryed out of St. Dunstan's Hall; and on 
August I 8, 16o3, 'Roger Brooke, Waterman, out 
of St. Dunstan's Hall. ': 
Occasionally, when any deserving case that 
seemed worthy of support was brought under the 
parson's notice, he made a memorandum of the 
same in his register. Thus, in one of the Knares- 
borough registers there is entered an appeal to the 
benevolent from one Richard Coates, which is 
couched in the following terms: 
'The bearer Richard Coates, a taylor by his 
trade, but being overcharged by a great many 
children was forced to take up another method to 
get his Bread. Which is so publickly known it 
needs no further demonstration. In which way, 
for ease and readinesse of going to the adjoing 
markets, he kept a little Horse which was stoln 
from him about ---- months ago, and not finding 
him, by all enquiry he can make, has brought the 
Justice of Peace to give him Leave to begg the 
Charitable Constitution of this neighbourhood only 
to help to gett another. And if you please to 
grant this Favour, he, as in duty bound, shall hold 
himself under great obligation,' etc. 
But in the same register we find an application 
to the Commissioners of H.M. Revenue duly 
entered, which is a somewhat unique memorandum. 
It runs thus: ' To the Hon ue Corn rs and Gov TM of 
his Ma ties Revenues of Excise of Beer & Malt &c. 
 Nichols, 'Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica,' 
vol. v., pp. 3, 4. 

Social Usages.  8 7 

' These are to certifye that Joseph Leeming in 
the pish of Knaresburgh in the County of York, 
is a likely man to make a good officer, is a Brisk 
healthy man, not incumbered with debts, a young 
man, unmarried, about one-and-twenty years of 
age, of a good family, sober life and conversation, 
well affected to the pres t Goven t, of the Com- 
munion of ye Church of England & bred a grocer. 
Proposeth for his securities M" James Collins and 
M r W TM Broadbett of Knar. afors a" He desires 
to be instructed by Bernard Calvert, officer of 
' These are to Certifye, whom it may concern 
that Joseph, son of Joseph Leeming, was Baptized 
at Knar. in Yorkshire ye   day of June I686. '" 
The number of persons, again, slain in brawls 
at inns and taverns, and in the streets, in olden 
days, is noteworthy. Thus, referring once more 
to the register of St. Dunstan's-in-the-Vest, we 
find entries of this kind : 
'x572. Aug. 22. Luce, which was slain at 
hearnes the Cooke in Chancery Lane.' 
' x579- June 20. M r Marten which was slain 
at Lyons Inne.' 
'x59. April x 9. Will'm Gifford slaine in 
Symon Canon's house.' 
And on January 5, x595, according to the 
registers of St. Mary 'vVoolnoth, rilliam Backe, 
'one of her Majesty's servauntes of the Guarde 
was slaine in the Taverne called by the name of 
the Bishopp's Head.' 
"* See ' Yorkshire Registers,' the tntifuar)', 88z, vol. vi., 
pp. 9 o, 9 . 

88 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

Under 16 IO the register of St. Gregory-by- 
Paul's gives this entry: 'John Fitzwilliams, 
servant to Sir Edward Dymmocke, Knight, slain 
in a Tavern, buried 14 February, 16 o.' 
And after this fashion the entries in our London 
registers proceed, proving how powerless was the 
arm of the law. Drink is also mentioned as an 
evil in the seventeenth century, and the register of 
St. Benedict Fink has a curious memorandum, dated 
April 23, 1673, concerning the death of ' Mr. 
Thomas Sharrow, clothworker, late Churchwarden 
of this parish, killed by an accidental fall in a vault, 
in London "vVall, Amen Corner, by Paternoster 
Row, and who it was supposed had lain there eleven 
days and nights before anyone could tell where he 
was. Let all who read this take heed of drink.' 
We may compare, too, an entry in the register of 
Newington Butts: ' 1689, John A,ais and Derwick 
Farlin in one grave, being both Dutch soldiers; 
one killed the other drinking brandy, buried 
[Nov. It. ' And at Rye, under December 2, 656 , 
a memorandum informs us how Francis Gill and 
William Grogervill, two soldiers o,a guard at Strand- 
gate, broke open a cellar, and drank so much 
strong waters as made six men dead drunk. 
Grogervill never came to himself, and Gill, the 
corporal, going his rounds, fell down and broke 
his skull. They were buried together in one 
grave, no shot fired over them, and no one attend- 
ing but the bearers. These men, by thus bringing 
themselves to a disgraceful end, were thus buried 
' without those honours usually paid to meritorious 
soldiers.' Another case is entered in the registers 

x9 o Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

nor never did knowe anybody though many came 
to see him and soe he died.' 
It does honour to the memory of Thomas 
Percy, the author of' Reliques of English Poetry,' 
to find him usefully employed in preserving the 
humble annals of his parish for the benefit of those 
that should come after him. The title-page to 
the registers bears the following inscription in his 
own hand: ' These old registers were rescued 
from destruction, and for their further preservation 
gathered into this volume in 767 ;' and at the 
end of the volume is a fragment of an ancient book 
of rates, which was thought a curiosity that deserved 
to be preserved: 

' Memorandum. 

' Feb. 25 th I767. This day I transcribed into 
the three following Leaves of Parchment all the 
Articles of Births, Baptisms, and Burials, during 
the years I756-I766 (inclusive) which I found 
entered in a Paper Register of the Baptisms and 
Burials of this parish of Wilbye, viz.--all that 
happened since I have been Rector of this Parish ; 
and after a very exact collation of this copy with 
the said originals, I hereby declare it to be very 
correct and perfect.' 

The 'fragment' of the ' ancient book of rates' 
contains many curious and interesting entries 
relating to the period when the Court of Charles I. 
took up its abode at Wellingborough, in order 
that the Queen might drink the chalybeate water 
of the' red well.' And it appears from them-- 

Social Usages.  91 

some of which we quote below--that the adjoining 
parish of Wilby was laid under contribution for 
the supplies of Her Majesty's household: 

' A levy made for the 6 th July, 627, for 
her Majesties household, at xij a yard 
land--sum total - - - xxxiij S xi d 
627. Layings out for her Majesties house. 
Sc. Payd for carrying six chicken and 
a capon to Wellingborougge iiij d 
It. Payd for carring four strikes ofxvheat 
to ye Courte - - vj d 
It. Payd for six chickens and a capon iiij s 
It. Payd to Thomas Hericke for driving 
a load of Charcole to the Courte - xij d 
It. Payd for twenty pound of butter vj s viii d 
It. Payd for the caridge of the same iiij d. 
It. Payd to the Ringer when her Majestie 
went through the town to Northton vj d 
It. Payd to sx women for gatheringe 
rushes (?) - xij d 
It. Payd for tow quarter of oates xxi s iiij d 
It. Payd for a load of wood for the 
Courte - - - viij d 
To the men to load the wood, and goinge 
to Wellingborough w th it - viii d 

Sum totl xliij iiii a' 



HE old custom of ringing the curfew-bell, 
which Milton has gracefully described- 
' On a plat of rising ground, 
I hear the far-off curfew sound, 
Over some wide, watered shore, 
Swinging slow, with solemn roar'-- 
is still kept up in a few villages. For many years 
past the practice has been kept u.p at St. Margaret's- 
at-Cliffe, Kent, during the winter months, with the due ringing of which there is an 
entry In the register, the minute of a vestry 
meeting held in the month of September, I696: 
'Whereas there has been, and is at this time a 
parcel of land in this parish, called by the name of 
the " Curfew Land," consisting of five rods more 
or less ; which for some time since hath been given 
by a shepherd, who one night fell over the Cliff, 
yet lived so long as to make the said bequest 
for ringing of a Curfew-bell at Eight of the Clock 
every night for the Winter half-yeare, viz., from 

Parish Customs.  93 

Michaelmas Day to Lady Day; and now, finding 
the great neglect for some yeares past in the due 
ringing thereof, and to prevent, for the future, any 
danger which may ensue to travellers and others 
being so near the Cliffe, for want of the due and 
constant ringing, if possible the like sad Providence 
may not befall any others,--we the Minister, 
Churchwardens, and others, the Parishioners, whose 
names are underwritten, in reference to the per- 
formance of the donor's good intent, do hereby order 
and decree that the said Curfew Bell be hereafter 
rung--as at the neighbouring parishes it is--con- 
stantly every night in the week, all the aforesaid 
winter half-yeare, the full time of a quarter of an 
hour at the least, without any exceptions of 
Sunday nights or Holy-day nights, and he that 
rings is to have and receive the benefit and profit 
of the said Curfew-Land, provided that he whoever 
is or shall be Clerk of the Parish shall have the 
refusal of it before any other, if he will accord- 
ingly perform the contents above specified. But, 
if not, then it shall be at the Minister's and 
Churchwardens' disposal to let any other have it, 
who will ring it accordingly. And in case it shall 
not be constantly rung, as is afore specified, it shall 
be lawful for the said Minister and Churchwardens 
to receive the rent from him who occupies the 
said land, and to deduct out of it, for every night 
it shall not be rung, two pence for any commission 
which shall be given to the poor that come con- 
stantly to Church.' 
There are numerous traditions to the same 
purport, and one current at Barton, Lincolnshire, 
, I3 

 94 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

tells how an old lady, being accidentally benighted 
on the wolds, was directed on her journey by the 
ringing of the evening bell of St. Peter's Church. 
Out of gratitude for arriving at her destination in 
safety, she gave a certain piece of land to the 
parish clerk, on condition that he should ring 
one of the church bells from seven to eight every 
evening, except Sundays, commencing on the day 
of the carrying of the first load of barley in every 
year, till Shrove Tuesday next ensuing inclusive. 
A curious little incident connected with the 
ringing of the curfew is recorded in the register of 
Penn, Staffordshire : 
'i75o, March 25. Mary Penn, foundling, 
bapt. The child was found tied up in a cloth, 
and hung to the ring upon the south door of 
Penn Church, about eight o'clock p.m. by William 
Baker, as he was coming out of church after the 
ringing of the Curfew Bell.' 
And in connection with bell-ringing, may be 
quoted a memorandum in the Leyland registers, 
relative to the fees of ringers, similar regulations 
occasionally occurring in other registers : 
' November the 4 th  664. 
 It is concluded upon by Mr. Rothwell Vicar 
and the Churchwardens now in being that the 
ringers appointed by them shall obserue to ringe 
in due time on Sundaies and take the benefit of 
ringing at Burialls and other times to bee diuided 
amongst them by equall portions and received and 
distributed by Peter Tootell Clarke or Robert 
Sargeant and hereunto the ringers doe subscribe 
their names the day and year aboue written.' 

Parish Customs.  95 

Among the old entries in church books, reference 
is occasionally made to the parish bull, a charge 
having been levied upon the parson for keeping 
a bull for the use of his parishioners. As the 
Rector was entitled to the tithe of calves, it was to 
his interest to promote increase of tithable produce. 
A correspondent of Notes and Queries (sth S., 
x. 334), says that, 'by custom of the parish of 
(uarley, Hants, the parson was bound to keep 
a public boar and bull for the use of the parish 
This he had neglected to do, whereupon his 
parishioners refused to give him the tithe of 
milk.' A memorandum dated April, I683, at 
St. Nicholas', Durham, affirms that ' it is ordered 
that Simors Lackenby is to keep in lieu of his 
Entercommon ground, one sufficient Bull for the 
use of the City and Borough kyne, for three years 
next ensuing ; and to give ten shillings towards a 
silver plate for a Course.' From a copy of a Court 
Roll of the Manor of Isleworth Syon, dated 
September 29, 675, it appears that Thomas Cole 
surrendered four acres and one rood of customary 
land lying in several places in the fields of 
Twickenham, called the Parish Land, anciently 
belonging to the inhabitants of Twickenham, for 
keeping a bull for the common use of the inhabi- 
tants in trust for the use of the said inhabitants, 
for keeping and maintaining a sufficient bull for 
the use aforesaid.* 
The baiting of a lion, too, was an event not to 
be despised, and in the register of St. Mary 
Magdalene, Canterbury, this entry is gven: 
 See Edwards, 'Remarkable Charities,' p. 66. 

I96 Social Life as "IbM by Parish Registers. 

' December the : 6 : 1687- Then the lion was baited 
to death in the White Hart Yarde with dogges.' 
Great attention was paid, in days gone by, to 
preserving the parish boundaries, disputes relating 
to which were not of infrequent occurrence. 
Hence, the custom of beating the parish bounds is 
occasionally noticed in church-books, the subjoined 
memorandum occurring in the register of Arling- 
ham : 
' Mem.--that I, Henry Childe, Vicar of Arling- 
ham, went in perambulation with some of my 
parishioners, on Rogation Monday and Tuesday, 
16o6. Upon the Tuesday I went to the utmost 
confines of our parish, eastward and from north to 
south, not for any superstitious sake, but to see the 
bounds of the parish.' 
And we may also quote 'a true account of the 
bownds of the parish ofRingmer , taken by M r John 
Lillie, Vicar, with several of the parishioners in 
rogation week, being the I4 th 1 5 th and 16 tla dayes 
of May 168.3.' The procession was as follows : 
' Monday ye i4th of May, after divine service at 
our parish church, we went from thence along the 
King's highway, to a place called Stone Street 
* * * And over the hedge at a Crab Tree. * * * 
From thence we went to the house of M r Henry 
Plummer, where both men and boys were worthily 
entertained at a plentiful good dinner, and thus 
ended our first day's perambulation.' 
The second day they ended at the house of 
Lady Springett, 'where there was a collation 
provided for the parishioners, and soe ended the 
second day's perambulation.' 

Parish Customs. 197 

The close of the third day, it seems, brought 
them back to the Crab Tree, at which place 'wee 
sange a psalm, and our Minister read the Epistle 
and Gospel, to request and supplicate the blessing 
of God upon the fruites of the Earth. There did 
M r Richard Gunn, by reason of his building a new 
apartment to his house at Middleham, invite all 
the company to the Clerk's house, where he 
expended at his own charge a barrell of beer, 
besides a plentiful supply of provisions brought 
from his own house ; and so ended our third and 
last day's perambulation.' 
The register of Radipole, Dorchester, contains 
an account of the perambulations made by the 
parish officers periodically for the purpose of 
ascertaining the bounds of the parish; and on 
Ascension Day, 1747 , 'after morning prayer at 
Turnworth Church [Dorset], was made a publick 
Perambulation of ye bounds of ye parish of Turn- 
worth by one Richd. Cobbe, Vicar, W m Northover, 
Churchwarden, Henry Sillers and Richard Mullen, 
Overseers, and others, with 4 boys; beginning at 
the Church Hatch and cutting a great "I" on the 
most principal parts of the bounds. Whipping y 
boys by way of remembrance, and stopping their 
cry with some half-pence; he returned to church 
again, which Perambulation and Possessioning had 
not been made for 25 years last past.' 
On May 14, 1706, the parson of Collingbourne 
Ducis duly attended the beating of the parish 
boundaries, and has made in his register the 
following memorandum on the event : 
' I made a perambulation round my parish, 

198 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

where we renewed ye old bounds and sett our 
land marks according to ye directions of some of 
ye oldest inhabitants who were present. We 
observed yt y bridge over ye brooke between 
Sunton Collingborn and us stands within ye limits 
of our parish, but this is only upon leave given, 
and ye inhabitants of Sunton are obliged to renew 
and repair ye s a bridge whenever it wants either 
repairing or reneval. Ira est. Guil. Sherwin. 
Occasionally interesting details are given re- 
specting old parish charities. At Wilmington, 
Kent, a copy of a terrier is entered in the register, 
wherein it is stated that from the establishment 
of the Dean and Chapter of Rochester, in the 
time of Henry VIII., in their leases of the parson- 
ages of Sutton and Wilmington, their lessees had 
covenanted to deliver to the parishioners of Sutton 
and Wilmington a certain quantity of wheat and 
grain at Eastertide annually, to be distributed by 
the churchwardens of these parishes to the needy 
persons within the same; and that in their lease 
of the said rectories, granted November 25, 1772, 
the lessee covenanted to deliver twenty bushels 
of peas to be distributed amongst the most needy 
persons in Sutton, and twelve bushels of peas 
amongst the like persons in Wilmington; and 
also to deliver three bushels of wheat, to be 
distributed amongst the poor of Sutton and 
Wilmington; and it is added that the usage had 
been for the poor of Wilmington to receive only 
one out of the three bushels of wheat.* 
" See Edwards, 'Remarkable Charities,' I842 , p. 32. 

Parish Customs.  99 

It is stated in the register of Harlington, 
Middlesex, under the year x683, that half an 
acre of land was given by some person, whose 
name was forgotten. But, it adds, it has always 
been understood that this piece of land was given 
for the benefit of the bell-ringers of the parish, to 
provide them with a leg of pork on November 5- 
The ground is known as the Pork Acre, and 
used to be let for fifty shillings a year, which was 
paid by the parish officers to the bell-ringers. 
Similarly, the old register of Bushey, Hertford- 
shire, informs us that a ' M " Gale gave a Haber- 
dine fish [barrelled cod, so called from Aberdeen, 
which was formerly famous for curing this kind 
of fish] & half a peck of blue peas, to twenty 
widows and widowers o,ace a year. Half a peck 
loaf and two pounds of cheese to each person are 
given instead.' In the Parliamentary Report on 
Charities, made some years ago, it was stated that 
the owner of a field, consisting of about five acres, 
lying in the parish of Bushey, vas in the habit 
of distributing annually, some time in Lent, forty 
quartern loaves and forty pounds of cheese among 
twenty widows and twenty widowers of the parish 
selected by the Rector. 
And in one of the Hayton parish registers this 
memorandum is given : 
'John Hall of the Head's Nook, by his last 
will and testament, left to the Parishioners of 
Head's Nook, Faugh, and Moss (Know?) the 
sum of five pounds, the use whereof was to be 
I-d. the pound yearly, and to defray the charges 
of church repairs for the three townships afore- 

Parish Customs. o 3 

cause sometimes to visit here; they are humbly 
hereby intreated, that they will be pleased to visit 
the school also, and to be favourable to good 
scholars which shall be trained up here ; and shall 
be found fit to be perfected, and want means and 
friends for their preferment. 
'A deed from the right honble lord Stanhope, 
lord of the manor to twelve inhabitants of this 
town, concerning liberty to build a school house 
there, is depo.s'ed in a box inthe Chest of this 
Chapel, and is registered in the Guildhall, in 
London, and to be registered in Christ Church 
in Oxford, in the eighth year of the reign of 
King James. Those that shall survive are to be 
remembered to convey their interest to other 
inhabitants, and like to continue dwellers in the 
Town, when the number shall by death or other- 
wise come to four, or sooner if they shall find 
cause. Those who shall survey and direct the 
building are entreated to be careful that it be 
strong and plain, and that the main bearing posts 
be set upon stone, somewhat above the ground, 
and the windows all clear stories. It is conceived 
that thirty-six feet for the length, and eighteen 
feet for the breadth, will be a sufficient proportion.' 



N olden times stage plays were performed on a 
Sunday, not only in the churches, but in the 
theatres, references to which are frequently made 
in many old church-account books. The Bewdley 
chapel-warden's accounts, for instance, give this 
entry: ' Paid unto the queenes plaiers m the 
Church, six shillings and eightpence.' And the 
register of Syston, under the year I6O2, contains 
this item, ' Paid to Lord Morden's players because 
they should not play in the Church, xijd.,'thus show- 
ing that the players claimed a sort of prescriptive 
right to use the house of God for their performances. 
But prior to this period several attempts had 
been made to check this abuse, and Bonner Bishop 
of London, issued in the year 542 a proclama- 
tion to his clergy, prohibiting all manner of 
common plays, games, or interludes to be played, 
set forth, or declared within their churches or 
chapels.  And the author of a tract published in 
 See Kelly's 'Notices of Leicester,' pp. I-2 5. 

Some Church Customs. 2o 5 

the year I572 also censures in severe terms the 
practice of the clergy neglecting their duties, and 
encouraging, stage-plays in churches : 
' He again posteth it over as fast as he can 
gallop; for he either hath two places to serve, or 
else there are some games to be played in the 
afternoon, as lying the whetstone, heathenish 
dancing of the ring, a beare or bull to be baited, 
or else jack-an-apes to ryde on horseback, or an 
interlude to be played, and if no place else can be 
gotten, it must be done in the church.' 
A writer in the North British Review for 
February, 1863 (t94), remarks that even in 
Scotland, 'long after the Reformation, such plays 
were performed, and sometimes still upon a Sunday, 
for the people saw no harm in this, and petitioned 
the National Assembly that it might be allowed. 
But the Reformed Ministers had now begun to 
entertain stricter notions of the day of rest, and 
forbade on that day the performance of plays.' 
It may be added that many curious particulars 
illustrative of the performance of plays in churches, 
consisting of extracts fr6m the accounts of 
St. Margaret's Church, Southwark, will be found 
in the Shakespeare Society Papers (III.), contri- 
buted by Mr. J. Payne Collier, who also com- 
municates a note that 'on June 7th, 1483, the 
citizens of Lincoln had leave to perform a play in 
the nave of the cathedral, as had been their custom 
upon the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.' 
And from Hayes register it appears that in the 
eighteenth century the favourite anausement during 
Divine service was cock-throwing in the church- 

206 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

yard, once, as it is noted, ' in spite of the justice, 
minister, parish-officers, and constables.' But two 
years later things grew far more serious, for the 
justice gave up the matter. The Rev. C. Manning 
writes : 
' Feb. 27 th 1754. Being Shrove Tuesday, Divine 
service was performed in the afternoon, and no 
care was taken to prevent the throwing at cocks, 
rioting, and swearing In the churchyard, at the 
same tmle ; though I gave previous notice of the 
same to the churchwardens and the magistrate, 
and desired that it might be prevented for the 
honour of God and a public good; but his answer 
was this :--" I know no law against throwing at 
cocks, even in the churchyard."' 
And from a parish-book belonging to St. Mary's, 
Shrewsbury, we learn that in the year 1584 the 
inhabitants of Astley were complained against for 
playing at bowls on a Sunday. It was ordered 
that'they shall adorn and repair their chapel at 
their own expence, as a commutation.' 
But church life was not the same in all parishes, 
for there is a memorandum, dated 1613, in Buxted 
register, of the combination of the parishioners for 
the better observance of the Sabbath. It runs 
thus : 
'Because God hath commanded us to have a 
care that the Sabbath daye be kept holy, both by 
ourselves and others, as farre as we are able, there- 
fore, upon consideration that the Lord's Day hath 
been many and divers ways profaned by unlawful 
meetings and feastings for manie years past, we, 
whose names are undersigned, doe give our con- 

Social LiJb as To/d by Paris/, Registers. 

in pietie and true Religion both in Publique & 
' 2 it is ordered and agreed if any butcher wthin 
this pish shall, by himselfe or any other, kill any 
beast or sell any victualls on the Lords day, he 
shall pay vj s viij a for every such offence. 
' 3 if any p'son shall exercise or be p'sent at any 
wrastlings, bowlings, frechings, ringerings . or 
any . . whatever . the like, if he be [over] 
fifteen years he shall pay. for every such 
ofence, and [if he be under] that age his maister 
or his parents shall pay twelve pence. 
'4 and if any p'son be on the Lord's day in 
any hm . . . alehouse or dwellinge house, except 
for Lodgeinge or for some other ocasion Mowed 
by the Justice, or if he shall be found drinkeinge 
or p'phaining by swearinge or Raileringe in any of 
these houses he shall pay lO 8 and they yt . . 
him shall pay IO s, 
'5-if any man shall grind or cause to be 
ground any corne in the mill upon the Lord's day 
except in case of nessessitie, shall pay IO 8 for every 
such offence. 
' Item that all head oficers and inferior oficers 
make diligent search to find out and punish the 
sev'all ofenders against the several Acts made for 
the observation of the Lord's day. 
'IL Concern abuses.I it is ordered 
and agreed that if all p'sons shall demean them- 
selves decently and Reverently in the church. 
'2 it s ordered and agreed that if any p'son 
shall abuse or . . a dead corps in the church or 
church yard issuing after the interment, for the 

Some Church Customs. o 9 

same he shall be ordered at the next sessions 
following and shall suffer punishment according to 
'3 it is ordered and agreed that if any shall 
Ringe bells for pleasure, on the Lord's day he 
shall surer according to Law. 
'4 if any man shall Ringe the bells upon 
ordinarie dales without the consent of ye minister 
or churchwardeners he shall be indicted for the 
ofence at the next Sessions following. 
'5- it is ordered and agreed that if any man 
shall send for stronge drinke to tipple in the 
Church or take to... he shall be complaned 
and surer punishment for the misdemeanor. 
' 6. [llegible].' 

Then follow the signatures of the Rector, 
churchwardens, and twenty-five of the parishioners.  
And, speaking of the observance of the Sabbath, 
a curious accident, which brought a somewhat 
severe and uncharitable stricture from the parson, 
is recorded on a loose leaf in one of the registers 
of Kirkandrews-upon-Esk : 
'Upon Nov. I. 696 yet happened a very sad 
accident 28 people were drowned at Canabie Boat 
as yY were passing yt water from church. Six 
persons come to years of discretion went from 
own church to Canaby. Every soul of y" was 
drowned. These six lived in nay parish. There 
happened in ye company, two boys of 9 and 
years old. They were xn ye midst of y pool 
 See 'Yorkshire Parish Registers,' the It, tiquary, 88-, 
vol. vi., p. 9 z. 

Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

over head and ears in water w  ye rest of ye people 
yt were drowned and yet by a distinguishing 
privilege yss two only got out of y water safe. 
Surely God Almighty thereby showed his dis- 
pleasure to these persons who being of age passed 
by yr own parish Church to Canaby, but shewed 
his mercy to y boys, who knew not w t yeX did but 
went for company sake. In suffering persons of 
age yt were of my parish to be drowned and in 
.preserving y two lads safe even in as great danger 
in all human probability as y rest. This is so 
distinguishing a evidence yt everyone ought to 
take notice of it, and take heed how they run 
from yeir own parish Church.' 
Another strange accident is incidentally alluded 
to in the register of burials of St. Anne's, Black- 
friars, under October 28, 623: 'Dorothy, wife 
of Mathew Sommers. She was slain at a priest's 
sermon. Mary Clement, waiting-woman to the 
said Dorothy, slain with her mistress.' 
'The horrid accident thus noticed,' writes 
Malcolm in his' Londinium Redivivum' (ii. 372), 
'occasioned a number of pamphlets, intolerant 
and bigoted in the extreme ; amongst which was, 
"Something written by occasion of that fatal and 
memorable accident in the Black Friers on Sunday, 
being the 26 th of October, 623, 8tilo antiquo, and 
the 5 th November, Stilo r, ovo, or Roman, i623."' 
It appears that a certain Father Drury, ,a member 
of the Society of Jesuits, and in priest s orders, 
had the reputation of being a fervent preacher, 
and hence drew large congregations, by no means 
confined to Roman Catholics. One account of the 

Some Church Customs. -I I 

disaster informs us that over the gateway of the 
hotel of the French Ambassador, in Blackfriars, 
which was of stone and brick, was a gallery, or 
attic story, of 40 feet in length and 17 feet in 
width, the third in height from the ground. 
There were two passages to this room, one from 
the street, the other from the Ambassador's with- 
drawing-room. The lower floor had a vault of 
stone. Twelve feet were taken from the length 
of the gallery by a deal partition, and this 
apartment served as a vestry-room for the priest ; 
so that an auditory of near 300 persons were 
compressed within a space but 28 feet in length 
and t7 feet in breadth. As the architect who 
erected this building could never have supposed 
so many people would have assembled in it, he 
had taken no precautions calculated to sustain so 
great a weight; on the contrary, it was found 
that the principal beam of the floor had been 
almost severed by two mortices facing each other 
in the centre, leaving little more than 3 inches of 
solid wood. 
A few chairs were occupied by the superior 
classes of the congregation before the priest, who 
had a table near him, but the remainder stood 
literally wedged together. Drury made his appear- 
ance, and took his text from the parable of the 
servant and ten thousand talents, and scarcely half 
an hour had elapsed when the dreadful catastrophe 
occurred, which in an instant precipitated the whole 
mass of unfortunate listeners through a floor beneath 
them, ' where they were engulphed in a torrent of 
timber, laths, and dust, after a descent of twenty- 

Some Church Customs. 2  3 

us that in the year I6I 8 a license was granted to 
Lady Barbara Hastings 'to eat flesh in Lent on 
account of her great age.' 
The same license is granted more formally in 
the following case recorded in the parish register 
of Staplehurst : 
' Be it known unto all men by these presents, 
that I, James Bowyer, Clarke, and Curate of the 
Churche of Staplehurst, in the County of Kent, 
have licensed, and by these presents do license, 
William Tanner, yeoman, being at this tyme sicke 
and visited by the mighty hand of God, to eate 
fleshe, and to use such meates as shall seem best 
to him for the recovery of his health.' 
The register of Wolverton tells us how Sir 
Thomas Temple had to pay thirteen shillings and 
fourpence for a license to eat flesh on days pro- 
hibited, and a further case may be quoted from 
the last page of the Bampton register : 
' Whereas the Right \Vorshp n Sir Thomas 
Hood knight and his worthy lady, having upon 
undeniable evidence made it appear that they are 
not in bodily health, and therefore according to 
the lawe m that case provided have obtained a 
licence to eat flesh during the time of their Indis- 
position of bodies; But since the Date of eight 
dayes allowed by the Statute is expired, and they 
are still in a sickly condition, upon their request the 
said licence is longer indulged them to dress Flesh 
and accordingly registered. March I8, I66O.' 
In spite, however, of the severity of the law, 
it was not always observed; for in the'History 
of Henley' (1861) a list of persons is given who 

Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

were presented (38 Eliz.) for eating flesh in 
Lent : 
' Robt. Chamberlin for roasting a pigg in his 
house the xxiij, day Marche, w ch was spent at 
Thomas Seywell's house, the cobbler. 
'Henry Wanlar for seething ij p'ce of bacon.' 
Turning to Easter, we find from a memorandum 
in the Tottenham register, dated 1577, that 'the 
vestry resolved that every parishioner, rich or 
poor, should at Easter pay for the 
Church, and providing bread and wine at the 
Communion seven-pence, and every person having 
one or more houses to pay the same for every 
empty house, and to the Clark's wages such 
sum or sums according to ancient collection'; 
and as illustrating Church life in the seventeenth 
century, we may incidentally quote the subjoined 
notice from the parish rate-books at Hampsthwaite, 
published in the year 1786 by the parson for the 
information of his parishioners as to his arrange- 
ments for Eastertide : 
' I give notice to all the Parishioners within 
ye p'ishe of Hampsthwaite that I intend (God 
willing) to administer ye Blessed Com. on those 
days following, viz., Palm Sunday, Good Friday, 
Easter Even, Easter day m the [church], and 
here will be sermons and homelys on Good Friday 
and Easter Even by myselfe or some other, and 
I pray do not drive all till last day. On Tuesday 
in Passion Week at Thornthwaite Chapel. On 
Monday morning after Palme Sunday to ye sicke 
& lame of Holme Sinders Hills. 
'On Tuesday morning, before I begin at 

Some Church Customs. z 15 

Chappell, to the sick and lame people of Thorn- 
thwaite & Padside. 
'On Wednesday morning to ye sick of ye 
Hamblett of Birtsw th and felicliffe, and on Thurs- 
day morning to ye Hamb t of Hamp. ye Church- 
wardens are to give notice ye night before to attend 
in y Hambletts. 
' I desire all ye pihioners of this p'ish to take 
notice & others not of" y p'ish y are concerned, 
that they come and reckone and pay yr compts 
betwixt [now] and Easter day to me or some 
other I shall appoint. The reck will be taken 
in y Church. 
' I shall be at home or in ye Church every day 
after now until Easter except Monday and Tues- 
day in Passion Week, when I am to be at 
Lawrence Buck's to reteine y reck & compts 
of" all persons that live within the compasse of" 
Sinders Hills. 
' I desire the Church wardens will take notice, 
as much as in them lyes, of those persons that do 
willfully absent ymselves from Sacrament, y are 
above  6 years of age. I give notice I will take 
no recks: nor any for me, on Sunday morn: 
nor on Good Friday morning nor on Saturday 
' The Church wardens are to provide bread and 
wine ag t those days I have appointed, at y charge 
of y p'ish. If any person be able to go or ride 
to Church or Chappell let them not expect me 
at their houses. 
' A great Sickness I fear this ensuing year. I 
pray God's Blessing from plag: & pestilnssis--L d 

Some Church Customs. z 17 

records that seven shillings and sixpence was paid 
'for dogs wipping' xn 78, whereas from the 
Castleton parish records we learn that the salary 
of the sluggard-waker in 722 was ten shillings. 
Apropos of this custom, Mr. J. c. Cox informs 
us that in the church of Baslow, Derbyshire, there 
still remains the weapon of the ancient parish 
functionary, the dog-whipper. It was his duty 
to whip the dogs out of church, and generally to 
look after the orderly behaviour of both bipeds 
and qua.drup.eds during Divine service. The whip 
in questxon xs a stout lash, some 3 feet in length, 
fastened to a short ash stick, with leather bound 
round the handle. We believe it to be a unique 
curiosity, as we cannot hear of another parish in 
which the whip is still extant. 
There is said, also, to be still in existence in the 
church of Clynnog Vawr, in North Wales, an 
instrument for .dragging dogs out of church, which 
has a long pair of curiously shaped tongs with 
sharp spikes fixed at the ends--an interesting relic 
of the church discipline of the past. 
Similarly, many bequests were made in years 
gone by for the strewing the church with rushes, 
a custom which was, it may be remembered, in 
many country parishes attended with all kinds of 
festive formalities. In the parish register of 
Kirkham, Lancashire, are entries to this effect: 
'16o4. Rushes to strew the church cost this 
year nine shillings and sixpence.' And under the 
year 63 : ' Paid for carrying the rushes out of 
the church in sickness time five shillings.' But 
after the year  634 disbursements for rushes never 

Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

appear in the Kirkham register, when the church 
was flagged for the first time. In the parish 
account-books of Hailsham, Sussex, charges occur 
for strewing the church floor with straw or rushes; 
and, in accordance with an old bequest, it has 
been customary for the Mayor to go to St. Mary 
Redcliffe Church, Bristol, on Whir Sunday, when 
the church is strewn with rushes. 
The alteration of the Style of the Calendar is 
noticed in one of the registers of Kirkandrews- 
upon-Esk : 
' Whereas our old English Stile, or year of our 
Lord, did not commence till the 25 t day of March 
w c was attend'd with great many Inconveniencys : 
But by our Act passed in the 24 t year of the 
Reign of King George the Second, and in the year 
of our Lord 75. This old Stile ceased; and 
for the future the first day of January is to be 
taken deem'd and accounted the first Day of every 
year. Andbvthes aAct  days in the month of 
7 br were annihilated and then the new stile took 
place. N.B. The   days were dropt betwixt 2 na 
and  4 h of 7 br  752? 
And apropos of this change in the calendar, a 
curious entry occurs in one of the Glaisdale register 
' Sept. 2. The new style, or Gregorian account, 
took place by Act of parliament; so eleven days 
were cut off or annihilated, and the 2 a of 
September,  752, was reckoned the  3 th, the next 
day the 4 th, and so on. This was well enough 
till Christmas came, when some would--yea, a 
great many--keep old Christmas, and some the 



ANY unusual events connected with our 
physical and natural history are recorded 
in the parish register. Indeed, the allusions to 
storms, earthquakes, meteors, floods, frosts, 
droughts, and such-like occurrences, constitute 
one of the most unique and authentic sources of 
information. Such entries, too, often give the 
most graphic details of the fearful havoc and 
destruction caused by these, as they were com- 
monly called,' visitations of Providence.' Thus, 
in August, 577, an alarming thunderstorm, 
chronicled in the register, occurred at Bungay one 
Sunday at prayer-time, causing the death of two 
men in the belfry--an event which gave rise to 
the wonderful legend of the 'blacke dogge of 
Bungay,' or the ' divel in such a likenesse,' that ran 
down the body of St. Mary's with great swiftnesse 
and incredible haste, ' and wrung the necks of two 
men.' According to the register of Holy Trinity, 
Dorchester, on August 22, 65I, 'at night there 

Strange Natural P]enonena 9_9_ I 

was great thunder and lightning, such as had not 
been known by any living in this age, and there 
fell with it a great storm of hail, some of the 
stones of which were seven inches about, with 
abundance of rain, and it continued all night and 
great part of next morning till eight or nine of the 
Under July 6, 666, an entry in Lambeth 
parish register records the burial of John \Yard, 
who'was killed with a thunderbolt.' It appears 
that on July I2, I787, in the same parish, another 
death of a similar kind occurred, which is thus 
described in the Gentleman's lagazine : 
'July x 9., died at his house, near the Bishop's 
Palace, Lambeth, at about a quarter before six in 
the evening, by a flash of lightning, Mr. Bacon, 
Clerk to the Salt Office. At the beginning of the 
storm he was drinking tea with his wife ; the back 
windows of the one pair of stairs to the south 
having been open all day, he went up for the 
purpose of shutting them, and in the action of 
lifting up his right arm received the stroke, which 
tore his coat eight inches in length, and four in 
breadth; whence it entered his right side, nearly 
opposite his heart, went through his body, and out 
at the left hip, and down his left leg to his buckle 
--which melted--and tore the upper leather of 
the shoe from the sole. His dog being at that 
foot, was also struck dead ; after which the light- 
ning penetrated the wainscot and floor of the o,ae 
pair of stairs, and made its way into the front 
parlour, north, where it tore the wainscot in a 
singular manner, and went off with an explosion 

Strange Natural P]enomena. - -3 

never seene in these parts by hoe man liveinge ; 
for it did throw downe some houses and mills and 
tooke away severall briggs... The water did 
run through houses and did much hurte to houses; 
besydes the water washt upp greate trees by the 
roots, and the becks and gills carried them with 
other greate trees, stocks and greate stones a greate 
way off and layd them on men's ground; yea 
further the water did so fiercely run dow,le the 
bye-wayes and made such deepe holes and ditches 
in them that att severall places neither horse nor 
foote could passe, and besydes the becks and rivers 
did soe breake out of their waves as they brought 
spreadinge greate sand beds into men's ground art 
many places which did greate hurte the never like 
was known. I pray God of His greate mercy 
grant that none which is now living may never see 
the like againe.' 
It is remarkable how frequently destructive 
storms of this kind are reported to have occurred, 
producing floods which may well have filled our 
forefathers with dismay. Thus, the register of 
Arlingham describes a flood that took place 
Tuesday in the forenoon, on January 2o, 6o6- 7 : 
' There was an exceeding great fludd, and the 
greater by reason of the south west winde, so hye 
that one might have morde a boate at Thomas 
Kinges gate; when many lost their sheepe and 
other cattle and their goods, Horsecroft and New- 
bridge being then sowde with wheat, and all over- 
flowde ; and had it not been for the C---- boate, 
which was commonly used upon IO th daye, and in 
the Tenure of M r Robert Yate and Thomas 

224 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

manye about the number of twenty, had lost their 
lives, or, at the least, binne greatly endangered to 
be pined or starved to death. M r Thomas Yate 
and his eldest son, M r Richard Yate, were then 
hemm'd in upon Glass Cliffe with the water. I 
say it is an admirable memorandum, because it 
exceeded the fludd that was about forty-six years 
before a foot and a half at the least higher than it 
was then. Cursed be the hand that raseth this 
memorable Recorde out of this Booke. Upon 
the same day M r Anne,-- who then was not 
churched,--for feare of the waters, was with 
M r Childe, then Vicar, and his familie, fain to be 
hurried over with the boate from the Vicaridge. 
And this day was just three weekes after Elizabeth 
Childe was born. ''a- 
Another flood on Tuesday, November 4, 628, 
is described in a lengthy memorandum: 'Flood 
over . yard high in Vicarage Barn'; and one in 
the following year, February 3, I629, 'ranne not 
into Vicarage.' 
' Thrice have I seen a fearful inundation 
Within the space of two-and-twentie years, 
As few of my coate have in all their station ; 
Which when it comes (as't will) into men's eared, 
What hart so hard that can abstain from teares ? 
But woe is me that I am first to dwell 
Where seas, enradge with windes, so Froudlie swell! 
God knows who shall survive to see the next-- 
To be, as I have binne, with feare perplext.' 
In June, I645, a memorandum in the parish 
register of Loughborough informs us that ' there 
fell a strange storm in that part of Leicestershire 
 See ' Gloucestershire Notes and ueries,' vol. i., p. z46. 

Strange IVatural Phenomena. 

both, it being on the Market Day Thursday. 
The brooks from the Forest came down with 
such violence that in the space of an hour ran 
through all the houses on the left hand the Malt 
Mill Lane over the Door Thresholds and thro' 
the yards down to the Shambles. And both 
streams meeting at the end of the Shambles ran 
over the highest place on the Conwall ; and thro 
all the houses Gats places and low Rooms on the 
West side of the Market Place insomuch that the 
waters stood up to their Bed sides in their Parlers 
and floated their vessels in the cellars, and would 
take a Horse up to the Belly ; and at the bottom 
of the Swan Street up to the Saddle, and ran over 
the walls of the Bridge going into the Rushes, and 
burst down a garden wall on the right hand the 
Bridge, and so got more Liberty and then speedily 
abated to the astonishment of all the Spectatours: 
which might say with the Psalmist, 'Oh come hither 
and behold the Works of the Lord what Destruction 
He hath brought upon the .earth and likewise- 
' Thou art a God that doth foreshow thy wonders every Hour 
And so doth make the Pcople know thy virtue and thy 
The Clouds that were both thick and Black did rain most 
The Thunder in the air did crack his shafts abroad did 
to conclude from Lightning and Tempest from 
Plague Pestilence and Famine from battel and 
Murder and from Sudden Death Good Lord deliver 
us. Amen.' 
Perhaps one of the most extraordinary storms 

228 Social Life as ToM by Parish Registers. 

recorded is the great snow-storm of January I6, 
t6t4-I5, one of the many accounts of which is 
preserved i,1 the parish register of Youlgrave, 
Derbyshire, under the heading' A Memoriall of 
the Great Snow Storm.' 
' It covered,' runs the narrative, ' the earth five 
quarters deep upon the plain, and for heaps or 
drifts of snow, they were very deep, so that 
passengers, both horse and foot, passed over gates, 
hedges and walls. It fell at ten several times, and 
the last was the greatest, to the great admiration 
and fear of all the land, for it came from the four 
pts of the world, so that all the c'ntryes were full, 
yea, the South p'te as well as these mountaynes. 
It continued by daily encreasing until the I 2 th day 
of March (without the sight of any earth, eyther 
upon hilles or villeges) uppon w ch daye, being the 
Lorries Day it began to decrease ; and so by little 
and little consumed and wasted away, till the 
eight and twentieth day of May, for then all the 
heapes or drifts of snow were consumed, except 
one upon KinderLScout, w ch lay till Witson Week.' 
And the Croydon register, under February i4, 
1614-I 5, says : ' This was the day of the terrible 
snow, and the Sunday following a greater.' 
It seems that this storm was followed by a 
drought, and from the same source we learn that 
' there was no rayne fell uppon the earth from the 
25 t day of March till the 2 na day of May, and 
then there was but one shower, after which there 
fell none tyll the 18 ' day of June, and then there 
fell another ; after yt there fell none at all till the 
4 t day of August, after which tyme there was 

Strange Natural Phenomena. 

Another great frost was that of 683-84. It 
was of eight weeks' duration, and is made the 
subject of a memorandum in the register of Holy 
Rood Church, Southampton" 
' This yeare was a great Frost, which began 
before Cristmasse, so that ye 3ra & 4,h dayes of 
this month of February ye river of Southampton 
was frossen all over and covered with ice from 
Calshott Castle to Redbridge and Tho: Martaine 
ma r of a vessell went upon ye ice from Berry near 
Matchwood to Milbrook Point. And y river 
at Ichen Ferry was so frossen over that severall 
persons went from Beauvois Mill to Bittern Farme 
forwarde & backwards." 
On the other hand, occasional reference is made 
to the excessive heat. The register of Lough- 
borough, for instance, records the great heat of 
the summer of the year I8(Z8, and adds that on 
I "th the heat was so intense 
' \Vednesday, July o , 
that n consequence thereof many People died, 
especially they that were at work in the fields, 
also a great number of Horses, particularly coach- 
horses drawing stage-coaches. The thermometer 
as high as 9z. ' And according to the Arlingham 
register just two centuries beforehand, ' there was 
a most extreame hott son-ier, in so much that 
many died with heat.' 
But, as nowadays, the weather in most years 
has varied, and an entry in the parish register of 
Mayfield, Sussex, gives some interesting particulars 
respecting the season of I626: 
' In the former part of this summer there was 
an extraordinary great fall of raine, and apparent 

Strange Natural Phenomena. 

And so, with dread forebo.dings, was penned 
the following memorandum xn the register of 
Nantwich : 
'This yeare last past, 618, in the month of 
November many times there appeared eastward 
a Blazing Starr, betokenninge godds judgements 
towards us for Sine. the lord xn mercye be 
mercifull unto us.' 
The arrival in the year 1680 of another comet 
seems to have caused some excitement, an event 
which was considered worthy of being registered 
by the parson of Crowhurst, Sussex, who has left 
this memorandum : 
'A blazing starre appeared in ye kgdom in ye 
yeare 168o: it did first shew itself o th December 
yt yeare 80 which did stream from y south west 
to y middle of y heaven broader yn that a Raine 
Bow by farre, and continued till y latter end of 
_At Collumpton, Devon, on March 19, 7t9, 
'in the evening between seven and eight a great 
light was seen'; and a similar one is recorded as 
occurring at Huddlesceugh, Cumberland, in x 653. 
On March 30, 716, 'a strange sort of light in 
the aire' is noted in the parish register of Chapel- 
en-le-Frith, which was, no doubt, an unusually 
brilliant appearance of the [Northern Lights. 
The same night on which this appearance was 
noted at Chapel-enTle-F.rith it also caused con- 
siderable consternatmn m other Peak villages. 
_At Hartington, along with a similar appearance 
which was noticed on the 6th of the same month, 
it was so vivid and caused so much alarm as to 

Strange Natural P]enomena. 2 3 5 

In the register, too, of Langtree, Devon, we 
find this entry : 
' March ye 19, 17 t 8, ab  8 in ye evening a 
great amazing meteor Light was seen m ye air; 
after yis an uncommon Thunder was heard; and 
y Light separating ab  y middle soon disap- 
Earthquakes, again, are noticed. Thus a quaint 
entry in the Nantwich register speaks of an earth- 
quake in I612-I 3 thus: 
' This same yeare on the I8 tu March chaunced 
a terrible earthquake between 7 and 8 of the 
Clocke in the forenoone w c came with a most 
fearfull noyse and horrible shakeinge, the space 
of 3 minutes, w c is noe doubt a sure signe that 
the cominge of Christ is at hand, and even at the 
A memorandum in the Aylestone registers, under 
June I, I684, chronicles a collection made for 
Runswick, in the North Riding of Yorkshire, 
'the town sunk by earthquake, and the in- 
habitants loss besides houses, above twelve hundred 
pounds.' The sum collected amounted to six 
shillings and sixpence. 
In the register of St. Mary Magdalene, Canter- 
bury, the following entry has been crossed out: 
' The great shake of y earth was September ye 8, 
69.' After it comes an entry relating to one 
Richard Kingnorth, who was hanged for ' stealeing 
a hors,' and then follows: 'The greate shake of 
the earth was September the 8 : 69.' 
But, as it has been pointed out, the wrong date 
is given for this earthquake. The event was 



HE love of the marvellous has never failed 
to attract attention, and at all times sensa- 
tional shows have proved a lucrative venture. At 
the same time, one would scarcely expect to find 
instances of these recorded in the parish register, 
amongst matters of serious and religious import. 
But oftentimes the parson jotted down anything 
that peculiarly interested him, and which had 
come under his observation in the course of the 
Thus, the register of St. Nicholas', Durham, 
has this curious entry: 
' x568. Mere. That a certaine Italian brought 
into the Cittie of Durham the eleventh day of 
June, in the year above sayd a very strange C4 
monstrous serpent in length sixteene feet, in 
quantitie and dimensions greater than a horse; 
which was taken and killed by speciall pollicie 
in (Ethiopia within the Turkes Dominions. But 
before it was killed it had devoured--as it is 

Social Life as ToM by Parish Registers. 

credibly thought--more than one thousand per- 
sons, and destroyed a whole country.' 
Shows of the Barnum type were very common 
in days gone by, bands of travelling conjurers 
and showmen going from town to town with their 
highly sensational bills of fare. An entry in 
Loughborough register records how in the year 
579 a man was slain by a lioness 'which was 
brought into the towne to be seen of such as 
would give money to see her. He was sore 
wounded in sundry places, and was buried on the 
26 th day of August.' The stories, too, are very 
varied in their character, but, from whatever 
source derived, they savour strongly of the mar- 
vellous. Thus, according to the statement of the 
parish clerk of Firmingley, Notts, the following 
extraordinary occurrence happened in July, 7o7, 
of which he was himself an eye-witness: 
'Zachariah Bolton, riding with his gun on 
M r Barnardiston's bay horse into "Auckley Colt 
Field," found five stags herded about two hundred 
yards west from ye bottom of the "Long Hedge." 
He fired amongst them, and disabled one in the 
hinder parts; then quitting his horse, he caught 
the stag by the hind leg, and called to Jarah 
Wood and myself, who were not far off, for help, 
but the stag struggling and braying, the horse 
took him by the neck, and beat him with his 
fore-foot till he lay still, then we took him alive, 
laid him on the horse and carried him to the 
parsonage house at Firmingley, into the little 
court-yard before the kitchen door, where he was 
killed and drest, by the order of John Harvey 

Strange Sights. z 39 

Esq TM of Ickwell Bury, who was there present, and 
had before given us an order to go about the said 
transaction. The truth of this I am ready to 
attest upon oath if so required.' 
A gruesome and highly strange occurrence is 
recorded in Baunton parish register as having 
taken place in the year 646, which we quote 
below : 
'In this parish of Baunton, in the Clarkes 
House--one Richard Syfolly--upon St. Matthias 
Day, 1646 , about eleven of the Clock in the 
forenoon there rose out of an old dry table bord 
of birch,won which bord I Henry Topp minister 
there now wright these words Aug st 94th being 
St. Bartholomew's Day--a water, reddish of the 
colour of blood, and so continued till rising and 
runninge alonge and downe the Table, all that 
afternoone, and the nighte followinge till the next 
day, and about the hour when it first began, and 
so ceased. That same day, St. Matthias (I re- 
member) I read prayers in the chaple but was not 
called to be an eye witness of this strange sight, 
and was informed of it by the eye witnesses the 
very next Lordes Day when I came to officiat in 
the Chapell. Many of the neighbours heard their 
reports as well as my selfe Henry Topp who have 
it avered under their said hands and marks. '* 
Equally curious is a ghost story which forms 
the subject of a memorandum in the register of 
Brisley, Norfolk, and which is deserving of 
notice : 
 See 'Gloucestershire Notes and Queries,' 887, vol. ii., 
P. 7- 

24o Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

'Dec. % x7o6. I, Robert Withers, M.A. 
Vicar of Gately, do insert here a story which I 
had from undoubted hands, for I have all the 
moral certainty of the truth of it possible :-- 
' Mr. Grove went to see Mr. Shaw on the 
2 a of August last. As they sat talking in the 
evening, says Mr. Shaw, "On the 2I st Of 
the last month as I was smoking my pipe and 
reading in nay study between eleven and twelve 
at night, in comes Mr. Naylor--formerly Fellow 
of St. John's College, but had been dead full 
four years. When I saw him I was not 
much affi'ighted, and I asked him to sit down, 
which accordingly he did for about two hours, 
and we talked together. I asked him how it 
fared with him. He said, 'Very well.' ' Were 
any of our old acquaintances with him.' ' No' 
(at which I was much concerned); 'but Mr. 
Orchard will be with me soon, and yourself not 
long after.' As he was going away I asked 
him if he would not stay a little longer, but he 
refused. I asked him if he would call again, 
'No; he had but three days' leave of absence, 
and he had other business.'" 
' N.B. Mr. Orchard died soon after. Mr. Shaw 
is now dead. He was formerly fellow of St. John's 
College, an ingenuous good man. I knew him 
there, but at his death he had a college living in 
Oxfordshire, and here he saw the apparition.' 
A correspondence which passed between the 
Rev. John Hughes, of Jesus College, Cambridge, 
and the Rev. Mr. Bonwicke, very shortly after 
the event referred to took place, was subsequently 

4  Social Life as ToM by Parish Registers. 

impost, an impost, and so died. A most sad storm 
of wind immediately ensued.' 
An entry in the Croydon register records 'a 
description of a monstrous birth, born of the body 
of Rose Easterman, wife of John Easterman, being 
a child with two heads, four arms, four legs, one 
body, one navel, and distinction of two male 
children, and was born the 27  of January, 
And among the burials of the register of 
Trinity Church, Chester, this memorandum is 
given : 
'John Brookes Mason who poynted the Steple 
i6io and made many showes and pastymes on 
the Steple of Trinity, and also on the toppe of 
St. Peter's Steple as many thousands did witnesse, 
dyed o July and bur  : July in the Church Yard 
(614) broke his necke going down a payre of 
stayres by the Church.' 



N many parishes the register served as a kind 
of note-book for the parson, and oftentimes 
contains miscellaneous memoranda of local interest 
--' brief but pregnant notes on passing events, 
and the ever-varying circumstances of parochial 
Dr. Kennett, Bishop of Peterborough 
i728), in his first Visitation to his clergy, 
marked on this subject : ' One more thing I would 
intimate to you, that you are not only obliged 
to enter the day and year of every christening, 
wedding, and burial, but it is left to your dis- 
cretion to enter down any notable incident of 
times and seasons, especially relating to your own 
parish and the neighbourhood of it.. If such 
memorable things were fairly entered, your parish 
registers would become chronicles of many strange 
occurrences that would not otherwise be known, 
-'The Registers of Prestbury,' Record Society, 188I. 
Introduction, pp. xii, xiii. 

z44 Social Life as Told by Parish Registers. 

and would be of great use and service for posterity 
to know.' 
Some parsons seem to have acted on this prin- 
ciple, and to have entered even the most ordinary 
and trivial occurrences. 
Church robberies are occasionally noticed. An 
entry in Hackney register, dated October, I689, 
runs thus : 
' Stolen out of the vestry of St. John, Hackney, 
on the 23 rd inst, one new green bible, two sur- 
plices, an old gown, a green velvet Case for the 
pulpit Cushion, the hearse Cloth, one green pulpit 
Cloth, and a small sum of money.' 
And under the year I633 , the following curious 
entry occurs in the parish register of North Wing- 
field : 
' Upon the first day of August or there aboute 
their was a great clock plum stolen out of the 
steeple, which was eight or nine stone weight, 
sum strong body did steal yt or else it could not 
have been carried away for I could not lift it with 
one hand, at the same time there was a kaye left 
in at Booth (?) Savage house which did unlock 
the Chapple door when they pleased to goe and 
ringe when I was out . . . And manie times the 
Churche doores was left open when I never did 
know of it by this means allso by going into the 
Chappell window & breaking the . . . door into 
the Chancell. At there pleasure the Church was 
made common and doores left open alnight manie 
vVe may also quote another curious entry which 

Local Events. 245 

occurs in the register of Bexley, under the year 
' Fhat in the week before Palm Sunday about 
the I8 th March, I Benjamin Huntington, Vicar 
of Bexley, in the County of Kent, for ye discharge 
of my duty and conscience, did certifie to the 
Churchwardens of the parish aforesaid, that there 
were severall pieces of plate, vizt two Silver 
Flagons and Silver Almes Dish (a Bason) alienated 
from the use of the Church, to which they were 
given by pious and generous benefacto TM and had 
been ever mnce the times of the late horrid 
Rebellion. And did then likewise according to the 
best Information acquaint them yt they were de- 
posited by M r Nicholas Franckwell, sometime 
Vicar, in the hands of M TM Anne Grymes.' 
A fire, as nowadays, occasionally caused no 
small excitement in village life, as may be gathere.d 
from the following memorandum, recorded in 
Mayfield register under the year 1611 : 
'Upon the Saboath daye, being the 15 th daye 
of Maye, about 8 o'clock in the night arose a 
great fire in the house of Thos. Stephen, at the 
west end of Mayfield towne, and burnt downe 
both his house and the next house adjoining, and 
sett on fire another house and also a barne. The 
fire by God's providence was put out, the whole 
towne being n great danger, by reason of the 
violence of the wind, which then was towards the 
And a memorandum in the Nantwich register 
relates how 'upon Thursday, the 29 th October in 
this yeare [1629], about 12 of the Clocke in the 

Local 1Events. z 5  

the entries in the parish registers that his father, 
John Russell, had three daughters and two sons-- 
William, born in 668, and Thomas in 672 ; 
and it is probable that the above person (com- 
monly known as 'Betsy the Doctress') was one 
of these. Lysons tells that, in the course of his 
wanderings, this eccentric individual 'attached 
himself to itinerant quacks, learned their remedies, 
practised their calling, and that this knowledge, 
combined with his great experience, gained for 
him the reputation of being a most infalfible 
doctress.' In his disguise he was a very convivial 
old.lady, it being his practice to treat his com- 
pamons at the village ale-house. 
_A similar case bearing on our subject is reported 
to have happened early in the present century. 
The person who acted as parish clerk, and was 
always dressed as a man, and had, moreover, been 
married to a woman some time before her death, 
was found at her decease to be a woman. _And 
in the register of St. Bodolph, Aldgate, under 
July 17,  655, we find this entry : 
' William Clark, son of John Clark, a soldier, 
and Thomasine, his wife, who herself went for a 
souldier, and was billetted at the Three Hammers, 
in East Smithfield, about seven months, and after 
was delivered of this child She had been a 
souldier by her own confession, about five years, 
and was some time Drummer to the Company.' 
On the fly-leaf of one of the Bampton registers 
is this memorandum: 
' The origin of the name of Mount-Owen was 
as follows: Some persons were passing by, when 

Social Limb as Toht by Parish Registers. 

the cottage at the top of the hill was in building ; 
anaong whom was an eccentric old shoe-maker 
named John Neal, and he was asked to give it 
a title. He said it must be called Mount-Owen, 
the Rev. Hugh Owen being Vicar of one of the 
portions of Bampton at that time.' 
To quote another entry in which the eccen- 
tricity of woman is further illustrated, we find in 
the register of Chapel-en-le-Frith, under March I a, 
1717, the following strange adventure of a young 
girl narrated. It appears she was about thirteen 
years of age, and her name was .Alice Phenix. 
She 'came to this town to a shop for half a stone 
of towe for her master, being an apprentice to 
W TM \Vard of the Peak Forest. She went from 
this town in the evening and called at Peter 
Downs house, who lived then at Laneside. They 
sent her away in good time to have gone home. 
She turned again and was found at the house when 
they were going to bed. Peter called her in and 
sent her to bed with his daughter, next morning 
calling her up very soon he sent her away, but as 
they were going to plough found her again, and 
his son did chide her very ill, and she seemed 
then to make best haste home, but sitting down 
between two ruts in George Bouden's Part on 
Paislow, sat there that day and next, and Friday, 
Saturday, Sunday, and Monday till noon. Two 
of which days, the I5 th and I6 th was the most 
severe snowing and driving that had been seen in 
the memory of man. This girl was found about 
one o'clock on Monday, by William Jackson, of 
Sparrowpit, and rilliam Longden, her neighbour 

Local Events. 2 5 3 

in the Fforest. They carried her to the same 
house back again, to Peter Downe's house, and 
after she had got some refreshment, a little warm 
milk, could warm herself at the fire afterwards, 
and could turn her & move her legs, with her 
hands, and after was carried to her master's house 
that night, & is now--March 25, 77--quite 
well, but a little stiff in her limbs. This was the 
Lord's doings.' 
According to the State Papers, dated June 3 o, 
1631 , special measures were adopted for the relief 
of the poor in the hundred of Nantwich, with 
the result that in the following year the principal 
owners of property in the town signed an agree- 
ment, which was entered in the burial register as 
follows : 
' Mem'--It is covenanted, promised and agreed 
by us the gentlemen and others the inhabitants of 
this Towne whose names are subscribed. That 
by reason our Tovne is greatly oppressed with 
Inmates and Strangers continually cominge to 
reside anaongst us without any restraynt, in regard 
whereof our own poore cannot so well be re- 
sieuved [received] as otherwise they might. That 
from henceforward, wee will not sett or let any 
of our houses or cottages to strangers dwellinge 
out of our Towne except they shall be such as 
shall be able to secure the Towne, by bond to the 
Churchwardens, for the time beinge, from any 
change that they or their ffamilies might draw 
upon ytt.' 
An interesting memorandum in the second 
register-book of Mildenhall informs us that ' there 


ACC)T, fatal, at Blackfriars, 
212, 2I 3 
Advent marriages, I35 
Adventure, strange, of a young 
girl, 252 
Agreements inserted in registers, 
Ale-bruer, I  7 
Almanacks, rules for marrying in, 
Apparition, curious, 24o, 
Apprenticeship, 89, I9o 
Aquavity-man, 78 
Astrology, I2I, 122, 241 

Baby-farming, tI6, II7, 
Banns of marriage proclaimed in 
market-place, I27, I28 
Barber-surgeon, 76 
Base-gotten children, Io8 
Bastards, o8 
Beggars, rules relating to, 97 
Bell-ringing customs, I94 
Bet, curious, I89, I9o 
Betrothal ceremonies, 36 
Bloody Meadow, duel fought at 
the, I83 
Boat accident, 2o 9 
Boundaries, parish, beating of, 
I96, 97 
Bowels, burial of, 6I 
Bowls on Sunday, 2o6 

Brawls, fatal, 87 
Bridal couple, putting of, to bed, 
I44, 45 
Briefs, 36-39 
Bull, parish, I95 
Bungay, black dog ol r, 22o 
Burial at midnight, 48, 49 
 by soldiers, I47, 48 
-- by women, 47 
-- fees, I55 
-- gardens, I64 
-- in woollen, 58-6o 
--of suicides, I5o , 15I 
-- solemn, I52-54 
-- usages, I47 
Bye-blow, illegitimate child, lO8 

Calendar, change of style, 
Cat, cure for bite of, 92 
Caul, superstition relating to, 
Charities, parish, I98 , 99 
Charms, 75 
Children, illegitimate, Io8, IO 9 
-- of God, 
--wrongly named, 3, x4 
Chrisoms, 7, 
Church, backside of, 48 
-- customs, 2o4-219 
--robberies, 3, 244 
Civil marriages, I33 
Cock-throwing, 2o5, 2o6 


Coffin, burial without a, 152 
Comedians, t79 
Comets, 232 
Commonwealth, registers during 
the, 133 
Contracts entered in registers, 
40, 41 
Creatura Christi, IO9 
Crom eli's daughter, marriage 
Croydon almshouses, 200, 2oi 
Court letter writer, I77 
Curfew-bell, I92-I94 
Curfew-land, 193 
Dancing-masters, I79 
Deaf and dumb, marriages of, I4 o 
Death and the grave, I47-I69 
Deaths, strange, I65, I66 
]Debtors. sanctuary for, 185 
Disputes, how settled, I79-I8I 
Dog-whippers, 216. 217 
Dog-whippers' Marsh, 216 
Dreaman, a, I77 
Drink, fatal effects of, I86, I87 
Drought, great, 228 
Duels, fatal, I83, 184 
Earthquakes, 235 
Easter dues, 214, 215 
Eclipses, 233 
Epidemics, 81-93 
Excommunicated, burial of the, 
I48, 49 
Excommunication, Io 5 , lO6 
Fewters, idle people, 184 
Fields, burial in the, 89 
Fires, some disastrous, 24_5 
Folk medicine, 91 
Fools and jesters, 
Fortune-tellers, 74 
Foundlings, lO9-111 
-- hospital for, II 3 
Frosts, great, 229-23 I 
Garden, burial in, I64 
Ghost story, 239 
Gipsies, 75-77 
Gowrie plot, 249 
Graves, position of, I6Z, I63 

Hardwicke's _Act. Lord, I8 
Heart burial, I6o, I6I 
-- death from broken, I67 
Heat, great, 231 
Hunt, royal, 248, 249 
Illegitimate children, Io8, Io9 
Jockeys, I79 
Jolly rant, the plague so called, 83 
Lent, meat in, 212, 2I 3 
Light, strange, seen, 233 
Lightning, death from, 22I, 222 
Lion, baiting of, I95, 196 
Lutenist, I77 
Mad dog, cure for bite of, 92 
Market-place, banns declared in, 
I27, I28 
Marriage, I24- I46 
-- by justice of peace, I3I 
-- contracts, I37 
-- tax, I39 
-Merry-begotten, illegitimate chil- 
dren so called, IO8 
Meteors, 233-235 
Midnight burials, I48-I9I 
Midwife, baptism by, IO 9 
Military discipline, 99 
Mistakes, comical, in registers, 113 
Moles, 254 
Mortuary fees, 56, 157 
Nativities, casting of, 74 
Natural phenomena, 220 
No Man's Piece, land so called, 
lO 3 
Nuptial contracts, I36 
Nurse children, II6 
Occurrence, mysterious, at Baun. 
ton, 239 
Orchard, burial in, I63 
Palmistry, 75 
Pannyer-man, I77 
Parish broils, 33-36 
-- clerks, 56-58 
--- customs, I92-2o 3 
 fees, 58-6o 

Index. 257 

Parish lands, 35 
-- life, 25-46 
-- pews, 60-63 
-- rights, 3 o, 3 I 
--scandals and punishments, 
Parson and people, 49-65 
Pewage money, 66 
Pictor-man, x75 
Plays in church, 2o 5 
Poor Laws, 25-27, 33 
Pork Acre, I99 
Posting sickness, plague so called, 

-Rates, old, I9O , 
-- burnt, 3, 4, 8, 15, 246 
Registers damaged through negli- 
gence, 9 
-- interpolations in, IO-I2 
-- lost, 9 
-- mutilation of, 2-4 IO, 11, 13 
-- preservation of, 16, I7 
--sold, 6, 7 
--- stolen, 3 
--value as legal evidence, IO- 
Registration Act, the, I9, 21 
Rose's Act, 
Royal touch, the, 79, 80 
Rushes for churches, 217 

Sabbath, observance of, 2o6-2o8 
Saltpetre-man, 177 
Scape-begotten, illegitimate chil- 
dren so called, IO8 
Scrofula, cure for, 79 
Sermons, 77"79 
Serpent, a huge, 237 
Servants, persons of quality as, 
Seventh son, superstition relating 
to, 77"79 
Shorthand, curious specimen of, 

Shows, curious, 238 
Sieve and shears, 77 
Singing-man, 178 
Small-pox, $I 
Smocks, marriage in, 14o 
Snow-storms, gceat, 228, 229 
Social usages,  7o- 19 I 
Solenn burials, I52-I54 
Spinsters, 142 
Sponsalia, 136 
Stamp Act, I8 
Stealing, death for, IOO 
Stocks, parish, 95 
Stop-gallant, plague so called, 82 
Storms, destructive, I5, 223-225 
Strangers, decision relating to, 253 
Strange sights, 237-242 
Suicides, burial of, I5O , 15I 
Sun, curious appearance in, 236 
Superstitions, 69-80 
Sweating sickness, 8I 

Thunderbolt, death by, 221 
Tithes, 27 
Tomb-maker, I77 
Torchlight burials, I49 
Trades, curious, I75 , 
-- obsolete, 177 

Virginal master, I52 , I75 

Want, death from, 184, 185 
"Vater-bearer, I76 
Wey-house, the, 176 
Whipping, customs relating to, 
Whitsuntide, marriage forbidden 
at, 135 
Wife's debts, I39 
Wills made by parson, 62, 63 
Winding-sheet, burial in, I52 
Wise man, 74 
Wise woman, 75 
Woodmonger, a, 177 
Worms, death from, $I 


Elliot Stock, 6z, Pater, taster Row, London.